NABOKV-L post 0011834, Mon, 12 Sep 2005 08:00:07 -0700

Fwd: Mythmaking and VN
Hello all,

Nabokov, as most readers know, frequently commented on the kind of misreading of
authorial (and autobiographical) intention that Sergey Karpukhin describes.
It's interesting, however, that Nabokov himself linked such interpretations of
his fiction to interpretations of Shakespeare's oeuvre, just as Karpukhin does.

During his feud with Edmund Wilson, Nabokov accused Wilson--in a letter to the
New York Times Book Review--of "gleaning from my fiction what he supposes to be
actual, 'real-life,' impressions and then popping them back into my novels and
considering my characters in that inept light--rather like the Shakespearean
scholar who deduced Shakespeare's mother from the plays and then discovered
allusions to her in the very passages he had twisted to manufacture the lady"
(Selected Letters 493).

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
Associate Professor of English
Holy Cross College

>>> 09/11/05 10:11 PM >>>

----- Forwarded message from -----
Date: Sun, 11 Sep 2005 21:28:05 -0400
From: Sergey Karpukhin <>
Reply-To: Sergey Karpukhin <>
Subject: mythmaking
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum

Dear All,

I think people professionally engaged in the humanities tend to make works
of art relevant to what they perceive as the cultural demands of the now and
here. They depend upon their personal perceptions in doing so, but their
professional status guarantees that their perceptions are adequate to the
public notions of those cultural demands. In other words, scholarship is
part of the public sphere, and a scholar's work is always connected to, and
is nourished by, his or her culture.

I'd suggest that Alexander Dolinin's work is very important in the context
of contemporary Russian culture in that it forms the basis of a 'Russian'
understanding of VN's work (which does not prevent it from being interesting
to non-Slavists). There is, if you will, a cultural meaning to Dolinin's

By the same token, I fail to see any meaning in Joanne Morgan's work. Ms
Morgan's (and Mr Centerwall's) theory reminds me of the determined efforts
of a certain person on the Shakespeare list to prove that Shakespeare was a
crypto-Jew. Both theories exist on the fringe of scholarship; the proponents
of both theories build their argument not on positive evidence, but rather
on a lack of contrary evidence (no matter Shakespeare never said he was not
a Jew, it was because he was afraid of the consequences; no matter VN never
said he was a pedophile, it was because he feared the consequences); and
both theories are founded on dementedly complicated codes supposedly cracked
by the authors. Perhaps, it would have never happened if Shakespeare were
not the best known literary name in the world, and LOLITA were not one of
the most popular novels of the last century. Public sphere (scholarship)
presupposes responsibility, whereas popular sphere does not. A subtle



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