NABOKV-L post 0026510, Thu, 8 Oct 2015 23:00:12 +0000

Subject
VN's "Bedside" Edition of Pushkin in High-Resolution
Date
Body
Dear List, Dear Colleagues and Friends,

A terrific piece of news from Thomas Keenan, Slavic librarian at Princeton University. Vladimir Nabokov's "bedside" edition of Aleksandr Pushkin's collected works has been made available for everyone to see in high-resolution as part of Princeton University's Digital Libraries initiative. In 2010, when it was auctioned at Christie's, I brokered the acquisition of this book by Princeton University along with another cherished gem from VN's personal library, his pocket-size edition of Fyodor Tyutchev's collected poems (behind the reader's back VN lets Vasiliy Ivanovich, the protagonist in "Cloud, Castle, Lake," have it for the duration of his ill-fated trip). That idea of mine would never have been realized had it not been for Stephen Ferguson, Acting Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections Curator of Taylor Library; Liladhar Pendse, then Princeton's Slavic Librarian and presently of UC Berkeley; and now Thomas Keenan, whom I approached with the suggestion to make these books available online. The precious and extremely fragile Pushkin volume is available in all its glory; the Tyutchev book will follow shortly.

Both books are rich in layers upon layers of fascinating marginalia. For a quick taste I would invite you to go to p. 143 of what VN himself called "gofmanskii Pushkin" to discover his translation of the opening line of "I recall a wondrous moment" ("Ia pomniu chudnoe mgnoven'e") into English, German, and French; a summation of this poem's effect on the reader with the aid of John Keats's opening line to "Endymion" ("a thing of beauty is a joy for ever" with VN's translation of it into Russian); and an evocative and subtle Russian description of the poem's dedicatee and the poem itself (possibly destined for VN's Pushkin talk of 1931). Those of you familiar with VN's account of the difficulties he had with "tackling" the poem in an English version in his 1941 essay "The Art of Translation" will quickly realize that that description is remarkably true to what is documented here. Those curious to go deeper will find the translation itself, the same translation that VN has in mind when he says: "The tackling process lasted the worst part of the night. I did translate it at last; but to give my version at this point might lead the reader to doubt that perfection may be attained by merely following a few perfect rules" (see Verses and Versions: Three Centuries of Russian Poetry Selected and Translated by Vladimir Nabokov, Brian Boyd et al. eds, 2008, p. 11).

There is much, much more.

Without further ado:

http://pudl.princeton.edu/objects/fc419028-86d2-4382-9c21-d636faa39952#page/1/mode/2up

Enjoy,

Stanislav Shvabrin

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