Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004738, Sat, 5 Feb 2000 21:16:41 -0800

VN Bibliography: Inostrannaya literatura (#12, 1999). Erik Orsenna
The contents of this issue of "Foreign Literature" with its special VN
section was briefly described yesterday. Since then, I have been able to
give it a closer look. Charles Kinbote's _Silvery Light_ and Erik
Orsenna's _Deux Etes_ are representative of what has become a whole
subfield of Nabokov studies -- works that play off of Nabokov's work in
one way or another--some brilliantly, such as Tom Bolt's _Dark Ice_;
others, ineptly, as Pia Pera recent _Lolita's Diary_. _Silvery Light_,
which catches the intonations of Kinbote to an uncanny degree, can be read
in English on the Nabokov Society WW site at http:

_Inostrannaya literatura_'s other example of para-Nabokoviana--
Eric Orsenna's _Deux etes_ (Dva goda), draws on Nabokv in a quite
different way. Orsenna (b. 1946), winner of the Goncourt Prize and many
other awards, provides a combination of quasi-fictional narrative and
meditiation on the tortuous history of ADA's French translation. The
whimsical tale focuses on Gilles Chahine and Jean Bernard Blandenier and
is dedicated to them "and to all my fellow islanders and translators."
Gilles lives on a small island off Brittany frequented mostly by
vacationers. He accepts the translation assignment but overwhelmed by the
immense luxuriance of the language. He is paralysed. The publisher, hoping
to coordinate the publication of the translation with VN's anticipated
Nobel Prize, keeps pressing him. At length, a lady friend, referred to
only as a relative of Saint-Exupery, organizes all of the islanders into teams,
each responsible for a page or two. When this approach fails, a resident
with a ham radio is enlisted to solicit the aid of volunteers the world
over. Meanwhile the translator is subject to ever increasing pressure from
the publisher and the wrath of the local curate who has belatedly
discovered the Nabokov is the author of LOLITA.
Orsenna's charmingly whimsical tale incorporates bits from
Nabokov's correspondence and fragments of ADA as the problem of its
translation are bemoaned. At length (after some five years) the job is
done but only after reshaping the lives of many people and
affording Orsenna opportunities for musings on the
nature of translation.
Alexandr Medvedev's essay "Outwitting Nabokov" is also of much interest to
Russian-reading Nabokovians. Medvedev provides a detailed and thoughtful
reassessment of the impact of dramaturge Nikolai Evreinov on Nabokov.
Speaking para-Nabokoviana, the "Kur'er section" of the journal
reports on yet another LOLITA spin-off. Random House has published
American writer Emily Praeger's novel _Roger Fishbite_, "a caustic and
discouraging LOLITA parody." The narrator, 12-year-old Lucky
Linderhof, is the victim of advances by
the stepfather. She is in jail awaiting trial on a murder charge. From the
brief description, the novel appears to be a rerun of the Lolita tale but
with the heroine killing her seducer stepfather due to his dalliance with
a younger girl.
Lastly, the issue is adorned with illustrations from (and a short
article about) the artist Balthus.