NABOKV-L post 0011858, Tue, 13 Sep 2005 11:26:27 -0700

Query: "German source" in SPEAK, MEMORY
I would like to ask Dieter Zimmer a question. A long time ago I requested
help from the list because I could not locate a quote I thought I had
selected from one of VN´s books ( I kept it in Portuguese and could not even
offer the original words). Nobody wanted or could offer help and I dropped
the matter.
When Dieter Zimmer described Frau Elizabeth von Staegemann and a wash-day at
her mansion, I remembered then having read a sentence by her about
"marks left on our remembrance like small children´s jam-smudged fingers".

The sentence I thought I had read in Nabokov ran more or less as follows:
"inkstained fingerprints in our memory".

My request is almost preposterous ( or, preposterous indeed!) but I´d still
like to find out more about this possible VN quote. Now I fear trhey were
not even his words and that I muddled my annotations.

I tried the "search" button for VN texts available digitally ( those other
"mnemonic fingertips/fingertrips" ) but, since I don´t have their original
rendering in English, only a human memory might help me.

----- Original Message -----
From: Dieter E. Zimmer
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 12:57 PM
Subject: Fwd: Re: "German source" in SPEAK, MEMORY

> Generally I am not overly fond of trickreading, but often it at least does
> no great harm. Sometimes, however, it leads plainly astray, and it would
> be
> much more enlightening to take Nabokov by his word. Such is the case of
> the
> "German source" he mentioned in 'Speak, Memory' in relation to his
> ancestors. All the names he enumerates in Chapter 3 Section 1 of 'Speak,
> Memory' are real people. Mr. "Staegemann" was no "upstaged stageman" but a
> real person whose name happened to be Staegemann, without any deliberate
> overtones. You can find them all if you take the trouble to walk through
> the
> comprehensive Nabokov genealogy I compiled a few years ago and which is
> exhibited online in Zembla. And 'source' just is 'Quelle' in German, an
> old
> Indogermanic root, without the slightest reference to Quilty and not an
> invitation for a game of wordgolf.
> However, I think I know exactly whom Nabokov had in mind when he spoke of
> his "German source", and as I believe it has never been said before, I
> will
> disclose it now. The source was Heinz Hintermeier, one of the executives
> at
> Nabokov's German publishing house Rowohlt, by now dead. Hintermeier was an
> ardent admirer of Nabokov's works and reading the 1951 version of 'Speak,
> Memory' (published in 1964 by Rowohlt under the title 'Andere Ufer', in my
> humble translation) he discovered they had ancestors in common back in the
> eighteenth century: the publishing dynasty of Hartung, in Koenigsberg,
> East
> Prussia. At one point the Hartung and the Graun families intermarried and
> became ancestors to Nabokov's paternal grandmother, Baroness Maria Korff.
> Around 1965 Hintermeier gave Nabokov as a birthday present a big
> hand-drawn
> genealogical chart detailing his relationship to the Graun and Hartung
> families. This among other things enabled Nabokov to greatly expand the
> genealogical remarks in the 1967 version of 'Speak, Memory'. Whereas in
> the
> 1951 version he had only mentioned the composer Graun, he now could add
> Graun's parents, the Hartungs, the Staegemanns, v.Olfers, etc. If I recall
> correctly, the Kleist anecdote went back to Hintermeier's informations as
> well. On the day of his suicide, Kleist seems to have tried to call on
> Elisabeth v.Staegemann but was turned away, but not because it was laundry
> day in the Staegemann household but because Elisabeth had a bad migraine
> and
> could not see anybody. It is unlikely, however, that she could have talked
> Kleist out of his disastrous plan.
> Dieter E. Zimmer, Berlin
> September 13, 2005 -- 10am
> ----- End forwarded message -----

----- End forwarded message -----