NABOKV-L post 0008629, Mon, 22 Sep 2003 19:36:25 -0700

Fw: Dmitri Nabokov comments on recent NABOKV-L postings
----- Original Message -----
From: Dmitri
To: D. Barton Johnson
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 3:29 PM
Subject: finis

Dear Friends,

As I prepare to emerge from the hospital after a couple of operations, I dictate this letter by phone. If there are any typos this time my secretary will be deprived of her afternoon cookie for a week. My own sin was having possibly misconstrued the erudite Mr. Morris's use of the expression "nothing if not a linguistic showoff." After quite a few decades of US citizenship and some lecturing at US universities, young Master Nabokov does happen to know the American vernacular nuance of this locution, something on the order of "if you strip Nabokov of all his medals, he will still be a linguistic showoff."

I am happy to accept Jansy Etcetera's epithets, since "a gauche white knight" sounds like a rare species indeed. But JE's sense of proportion is a little off. A check of the file will reveal that I have devoted a good bit more time and printer ink to answering questions and providing interesting tidbits and graphics than charging at windmills in my father's defense. Whether or not I defend him, or someone attempts to demean him, I doubt that his status in the literary macrocosm will change much. I think it was the kind and perceptive Tim Strzechowski who observed that I do know interesting things about my parents that others may not know. But contrary to what Jansy Etcetera somewhat bombastically suggests, I have never taken myself as the highest scholarly authority on VN (if that is JE's meaning). There are some outstanding specialists: Johnson, Dolinin, Nicol, Parker, to name a few, and especially Brian Boyd. In fact, the latter's stunning expertise on ADA, which has continued to develop ever since he came to see my mother and me in Montreux on the wings of his doctoral thesis -- a visit that led to the writing of the only Nabokov biography worthy of the name -- now prompts me to extend to him a public invitation: to write an introduction, and perhaps provide his existing notes, for a new Russian translation of ADA, the first, perhaps, to be worthy of its name. An exceptional introduction is sorely needed to counterbalance certain Russian hacks, the worst of whom, not long ago, goofed again while introducing a barely recognizable ADA. Yes, I mean the same worthy gentleman who claimed, in a recent, unposted literary harangue, that the report of my death in some Russian gazette voided any claim against a major Nabokov piracy of his.

I am glad that the boobstorm has abated; that interesting discussions of Pynchon and Nabokov have resumed on the P-List; that an absorbing ADA dialogue between Don and Brian, set off partly by the Showoff Shenanigans, continues to delight and enlighten us on the N-List; and that I have ceased to be the target of an arsenal -- or half-arsenal -- of infantile invective.

With my best wishes to all,