NABOKV-L post 0011871, Wed, 14 Sep 2005 15:03:13 -0700

Fwd: Re: Query: "German source" in SPEAK, MEMORY
I regret I can't be of help. I don't remember any of the two quotes, neither
the one by Staegemann nor the Nabokov one. "It sounds like him" is all I can
say. And as I can't rely on my fickle memory, I searched my hard disc where
I have practically all of Nabokov's published works, in German. The result
was zero. The word "fingerprints" occurs just once, in "King Queen Knave",
and not in connection with memory at all. Whosoever is asking, I wonder
where you managed to find the Staegemann quote? Both possible sources are
quite recondite.

Dieter Zimmer
September 14, 2005 -- 9:15am

----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 8:26 PM
Subject: 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.
> Jansy
> ----- 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 -----

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