NABOKV-L post 0010523, Thu, 4 Nov 2004 10:47:23 -0800

Fwd: the Art of Annotation
EDNOTE. Carolyn raises some interesting ideas about annotating literary texts.
It seems to me that much depends on the anticipated audience. Students?
Specialists? I would suggest that any reader with an annotated text. Read the
novel through BEFORE consulting the notes. Then a second or third time using
the notes as needed. Appel's LO is fine for students. To read Boyd's
annotations without very close familiarity with the text is madness.

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Date: Wed, 03 Nov 2004 08:52:14 -0800
From: Carolyn <>

Dear Brian,

I found the Annotated extremely helpful, especially the mini-essays or
longer passages that Appel appends here and there. I really was annoyed
by the translation of every instance of French, because my French is not
great by any means but he translates many of the simplest French words,
even some that are pretty international. I found myself looking up the
notes to certain French phrases hoping there were be some in-depth
reference, but it was just a simply translation. But, of course, this is
helpful to anyone who has no French. I think you must be pretty advanced
in Nabokov studies to be disappointed by the Annotations? The
Annotations are quite old now. Should they be updated?

Brian Howell

Carolyn. You pose an excellent question. I skipped over Appel's mini-essays.
they should not be included as notes, but appended as separate essays? A
note should not really interrupt the reader's flow for terribly long

The annotated This or That is usually a humongous (sp?) disappointment. One
barely has time to read the first two words when the annotator Kinbote-like
leaps in to enlighten us as to the history of the the word "the." The poor
reader soon gives up.

Martin Gardner's Annotated Alice is the original & great exception. Of
course we also have VN's EO which is a great work in itself - - and
according to many much greater than the translation it accompanies. VN
himself was a fan of Charles Singleton's commentary on Dante.

I wonder if anyone has analyzed what makes a great annotated text? It would
be interesting to hear of examples of excellent annotated texts from the
list members.


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