Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005365, Wed, 12 Jul 2000 19:25:02 -0700

Re: VN's first language
Ms Colquhoun is, I think, mistaken. VN learned to read the English alphabet
before he learned the Russian alphabet (See Speak, Memory). Russian was his
first spoken language and the one he continued to use within his own family
until his death.

D. Barton Johnson

----- Original Message -----
From: "Galya Diment" <galya@u.washington.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2000 4:57 PM

> From: Colquhoun <TAColquhoun@compuserve.com>
> Message text written by Vladimir Nabokov Forum
> >a gifted stylist in his adopted second language.<
> This is surely the biggest Nabokov myth. Isn't the whole point that
> was not writing in any 'second' language? He didn't SUDDENLY as myth would
> have it, adopt English and become a hugely innovative and ground-breaking
> stylist the minute he hit American shores. He grew up, as he himself put
> it, as any other trilingual child with a large library. He in fact spoke
> English before he spoke Russian or at least had a better command of
> than he had of Russian in his early childhood.
> True, it must have been a big change-over suddenly to start writing to an
> artistically high standard in English, and all credit is due to him for
> that, but his command of English by no means came out of the blue, did it?
> Alexandra Colquhoun