Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003308, Sat, 15 Aug 1998 20:24:40 -0700

No -- it had not appeared anywhere prior to the article you cite -- and
for a very good reason, I believe. It goes totally against everything we
know about how Nabokov felt about Chernyshevsky and, especially, what
Chernyshevsky stood for. VN also obviously considered him anything but an
artist -- so it would be a total insult to Cincinnatus (and, by extension,
to Nabokov) to suggest that Chernyshevsky could be in any form or shape
C.'s prototype! VN, in fact, saw people like Chernyshevsky directly
responsible for the kind of regimes that put countless Cincinnatuses in
prisons and camps for being independent thinkers. Having said that, I
agree there are some similarities between Cincinnatus & Marthe and
Chernyshevsky & Olga Sokratovna as portrayed in the GIFT.

Galya Diment

On Sat, 15 Aug 1998, Donald Barton Johnson wrote:

> EDITOR's NOTE. Alexei Medvedev is a Moscow journalist with a particular
> interest in Nabokov.
> ---------------------------
> From: Alexei Medvedev <alexmedved@yahoo.com>
> Dear Colleagues!
> Recently I read an article by Victoria Shokhina "Chernyschevski
> through the eyes of Nabokov", published on the 24.07.98 in
> "Nezavisimaya gazeta".
> The main idea is that in 1935 Nabokov interrupted his work on the Gift
> in order to give another more sympathetic version of Chernyshevski
> life. So he wrote an Invitation to a Beheading.
> The parallelism of lives of Cincinnatus and Chernyshevski is indeed
> striking: both are school teachers, both have plump and good-looking
> wives who cheat , both are imprisoned for being sort of rebels,
> both try to escape two times, but their attempts turn out to be a
> farce... Furthermore, Cin. and Cher. are writing in prison the books
> of their lives ("Chto delat'?" and Cin's diary which turns out to be
> the novel itself). And finally both undergo some kind of dubious
> execution, after which u can't say are they alive or dead...
> Well, now I'm getting to the more personal part of my message. The
> fact is that all these observations were my long-cherished ideas,
> which unfortunately I haven't published in written form, but gave
> their brief summary during the radio broadcast dedicated to VN...
> So I just like to check if some of you have come across similar
> thoughts in books on VN? Perhaps my observations are quite common and
> I just don't know about it...
> Thanks in advance,
> Alexei Medvedev, Moscow
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