Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003550, Thu, 24 Dec 1998 12:32:31 -0800

VN Bibliography: 1) PF, 2) Elena Sikorskaya interview
EDITOR's NOTE. NABOKV-L thanks Svetlana Polsky and Catherine Saint Louis
for sending in the information relayed below. I encourage all subscribers
to follow their excellent example.

1. Catherine Saint Louis. "Who Wrote PALE FIRE?" _Linguafranca: The Review
of Academic Life_ Dec.-Jan. 1999. pp. 10-12. About a year ago, there was a
spirited discussion on NABOKV-L about the ever popular question "Who
narrates PALE FIRE?" Brian Boyd, long an ardent "Shadean," was prompted to
make a thorough reevaluaion of the entire novel which lead to many new
finds--among them a new answer to narrator question. Saint Louis offers a
background survey of the long controversy. Boyd's new PALE FIRE findings
(which are far broader than the narratorship issue) will soon be available
in a new book from Princeton University Press.

2. Svetlana Polsky (Goteborg University, Sweden), discoverer of VN's long
lost story "Easter Rain" and author of a dissertation volume & several
articles on VN's stories, sends a fascinating interview from the Russian
newspaper _Kommersant_ (Dec. 4, 1998), p. 1ff. "He didn't read
Solzhenitsyn and Never Watched Television" says VN's Sister."
Moscow's Hertzen Museum marked the begining of VN's centenary with
an evening entitled "Switzerland in VN's Life." In honor of the occasion
_Kommersant_'s special corespondent, Igor Svinarenko, interviewed Elena
Sikorsky, VN's youngest sister, who lives in Geneva. Seven years younger
than VN, she is now 92. Much of the interview covers matters already
well-known: the aborted visit from Solzhenitsyn, VN's rental of a TV to
see the moon landing, a visit from Soviet writer Victor Nekrasov, the
years she and her mother spent in Prague, VN's failed romance with
Svetlana Sievert before meeting Vera, her own life, her brother's
sense of humor, his comments on Soviet humorists Ilf & Petrov and bard
Bulat Okudzhava and Henry Miller (?). Of greater note is that while VN was
in the hospital in Lausanne, he asked that Elena bring him a volume of
Chekhov stories.
On the whole the interview is routine but at one point the
correspondent inserts a thought of his own that can only be charitably
described as "speculative" and, less charitably, as slanderous. Elena
recalls the Crimean exile period when she was 13 and VN 19. This was their
closest period and VN instructed her in drawing, and matters lepidopteral
and poetic. In the midst of this account, the interviewer drifts off into
his own hyperactive imagination: a beautiful young, adoring (but
untouchable) sister who idolizes her brother, the idyllic and exotic
Crimea. Aha! The germ of Lolita? Although Svinarenko clearly indicates
that this is merely his private reverie, it is, to say the least,

D. Barton Johnson
Department of Germanic, Slavic and Semitic Studies
Phelps Hall
University of California at Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone and Fax: (805) 687-1825
Home Phone: (805) 682-4618