NABOKV-L post 0010407, Mon, 4 Oct 2004 17:18:01 -0700

Fw: bits of news: St.etersburg VN Museum; Rex Morgan
MessageEDNOTE. Below is a lightly edited version of the latest news from Dmitri Nabokov. The Governor Matvienko he refers to is the

----- Original Message -----
From: Dmitri Nabokov
To: 'D. Barton Johnson'
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 3:24 PM
Subject: bits of news

Dear Don,

I have not deliberately been out of touch, just very busy on several fronts. Then there was your C Disaster, and I haven't had time to establish whether anything of import vanished into that hole. By the way, as an illustration of some kind of interpersonal stress, a bottle of Coke was once spilled into Nurse June's computer in "Rex Morgan, MD," a comic strip whose reinstatement in the Trib -- temporary, as it turned out -- VN once vigorously demanded for the sake of its hilarious kitsch.

Here are the more interesting developments re the Petersburg Nabokov Museum:

Governor Matvienko's cordial response to the Montreux letter and endorsement of the salvation project has run into some flak from the Soviet-style Culture Commission, which takes orders from her, but nevertheless gets its say. In order to qualify even as a Category Four Museum, and pay qualified personnel the presscribed wages, a museum needs to display far more than the 250 exhibits the Commission counted. In a still unsent draft letter that I prepared I pointed out that, once there is assurance of the Museum's permanence as well as adequate security, valuable items now stored in the cellar could be brought up, donors would more willingly contribute valuable additions, and I personally could provide several hundred items, from personal mementos to certain editions the Museum does not have to high-quality copies of archival materials I have sent or am preparing for the Berg: manuscripts and letters, photographs, audio-visual rarities etc. I'm pretty certain things could be worked out with friend Gewirtz.

Another item that should count for a few points is the famous Bakst portrait of my grandmother, which the Russian Museum has agreed to loan.One might hope. too, that other museums might follow suit with pillaged belongings, and even that some of the furniture might trickle back. I also mention in the draft that the good old Bolshevik standard based on the number of exhibits (and here one recalls the puzzling turd-like lumps in "A Visit to the Museum") might not necessarily be applicable to the VN collection, which Matvienko calls a unique and world-famous part of Petersburg's literary existence. Furthermore, I suggested a moratorium on the premise the minimum number of exhibits (2000, I think) would soon be achieved. Finally, dammit, it's my house and I should have the right to decide what to do with it (they were proposing "varianty" making the VN house a catch-all for various extraneous bric-a-brac). One other variant involves calling it the Nabokov House and Literary Museum or something like that, and modeling it on the Pushkin House, opening to few very important and somehow relevant non-VN collections and events without straying from its central destination. Tanya and I may evaluate that possibility.

I have not heard from Tanya for several days, and in fact I was a little surprised she did not inform me of Terry's mid-October visit to Montréal. He had assumed she would, in part because he's bringing me a delightful present -- a cassette he managed to obtain of that Italian movie I made in '67. It's not a summit of cinematic art, but something that I regretted not having gotten earlier, and that eluded me later. The last time I saw it was in a hired Montreux cinema with my parents, James Mason, and Vivi Crespi (I had been lent the reels shortly after it was finished and long before it came out in commercial VHS).

As for Putin, I'm sure you know about the decree he has signed into law extending copyright protection to pre-73 Russian and Western literary works.That won't help us much, but it's still a victory. There are, of course, still pirates to be nabbed like the character who is urrently peddling the CD of various Nabokoviana together with foul commentaries by Ivanov and "Princess" Shakhovskoy. It would not surprise me if Melnikov had his grimy finger in that pie too. As for my legal proceedings against him, I have certainly not abandoned them, but have just put things on hold until the full force of the new law can be brought to bear on him and his publisher.

One last thing, which I've mentioned not long ago. In spite of being systematically ignored, the foul-mouthed crackpot Livry is back on the warpath, sending around letters to List members and others over my signature and that of Nora Bukhs, containing links to various "forums" which, beforehand, had posted (or not) his scurrilous claptrap -- such items as an attribution to "VN, world-famous author of LOLITA," comments about his (Livry's) wife and her Lesbian pal. Livry must frequently be on drugs (actually he has written about his divertissements on cocaine). Then he mixes in the occasional bad but straight article to confuse things. Lately, he has, for some bizarre reason, been linking Nora and me with jailbird Berezovsky, and desperately re-posting his old tripe including that story, presumably about me, which he did write even though the phony author also existed. I say "desperately" because L. cannot stand to be ignored, yet nobody takes him seriously, and both Nora and I have far more important things to do, such as, in my case, getting my Italian translation of the 13 RUSSIAN BEAUTY STORIES ready for publication and giving the excellent Sklyarenko a hand with his very good essays; and, in Nora's, starting her academic year at the Sorbonne. By the way, Nora tell me the "Nabokov nietsheanets" Livry is trumpeting is a rehashed old term paper

Post as little or as much of this as you like. It does contain things that might interest the list. But for Heaven's sake make it clear that neither Nora nor I had anything to do with posting this Livry madness on Nab-L or to private parties, and that our names (and my appproximate address) were stolen.


Warm greetings,


PS: Nor am I neglecting Carolyn's question. I'll take a crack at it soon as I can.