Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008887, Mon, 10 Nov 2003 09:51:31 -0800

Fw: Special de Livry
----- Original Message -----
From: Dmitri NABOKOV
To: 'D. Barton Johnson'
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2003 2:27 PM
Subject: Special de Livry


Kindly post:

Il est bien modeste, le petit bonhomme

It was thoughtful of Carolyn to bother translating Mr. Livry's letter for the benefit of non-French readers who might otherwise have missed this gem. I had considered doing that too, but, having perused it, saw nothing much worth transmitting. I must correct her on one point: maître-chanteur means "blackmailer," a locution Livry uses not quite correctly in the feminine (I know exactly whom he has in mind). It quickly becomes evident why Livry got the boot at the Sorbonne: he is not normal, he is not logical, and he is politically bizarre. Incidentally, while peddling his book, he speaks of an article of his online; however, this piece, too, appears to have been prudently excised. But the dead giveaway, politically, comes when he speaks of the undependability of the mail service in "post-Socialist" [sic] Russia. The jargon is instantly recognizable: Lenin's massacres and Stalin's purges were the work of mild socialist idealists, right? No -- way left. Having affirmed that he is "widely respected" he promptly asks, as if quoting a putative reader, "Who is this Livry?" Not content with this paragon of logic, he prefaces it by his chef-d'oeuvre: he has it on good critical authority that his "talent and style considerably surpass those of Vladimir Nabokov." By this time I was already laughing so hard at this clown's sour grapes that it was hard to keep reading.

I have been in touch with friends at the Sorbonne, where I have lectured on a couple of occasions, and chaired a Nabokov conference. I shall spare Mr. Livry the embarrassment of reading their assessments, but I can say that he would hardly have been flattered,

There is something worse than a hooligan. That is a hooligan qui ne tourne pas rond [who is not running on all cylinders].



Dmitri Nabokov

PS: I do not know why L. mentions "Skazka," since the Website that he cites yields nothing, legal or illegal. But I do know that the word is spelled with a "z", not an "s". I'm afraid Mr. L. needs two crash courses: one in computer skills, the other in basic Russian.