NABOKV-L post 0002296, Fri, 22 Aug 1997 10:04:53 -0700

Subject
Query: VN first English reader
Date
Body
I have been trying to identify VN's first English text described in Speak,
Memory_. Harvey Pitcher's fascinating volume _When Miss Emmie was in
Russia_, a history of British governesses in Russia, has provided a couple
of hints that lead to the items below. The few libraries that have them,
generally won't lend them, so I am asking Nabokovians to check their
libraries. If either volume is there, could you take a look and see if it
might fit VN's description below?

If it has characters named Ned, Sam, Ben & Dan, it may
well be Nabokov's first English primer.

From Nabokov's autobiography: SPEAK, MEMORY, Section 1, Chapter 4:

"I learned to read English before I could read Russian. My first
English friends were four simple souls in my grammar--Ben, Dan, Sam and
Ned. There used to be a great deal of fun about their identities and
whereabouts--"'Who is Ben?' 'He is Dan,' 'Sam is in bed,' and so on.
Although it all remained rather stiff and patchy (the compiler was
handicapped by having to employ--for the initial lessons at least--words
of not more than three letters), my imagination somehow managed to obtain
the necessary data. Wan-faced, big-limbed, silent nitwits, proud in the
possession of certain tools ('Ben has an axe'), they now drift with a slow
motion slouch..."

The volume is described as "brown." The volumes below seem likely
candidates. If you have access to either I would be most grateful if you
could check and see if they fit the above decription in their opening
pages.

-----------------------------------------------
TITLE: The infant reader :
short stories in simple words, with illustrations.
PLACE: London :
PUBLISHER: T. Nelson & Sons,
YEAR: ? 1960 1969 (Original pub. around turn of century.)
PUB TYPE: Book
FORMAT: 63 p. : ill. ; 15 cm.
SERIES: Royal school series
SUBJECT: Primers.
ALT TITLE: Royal infant reader, illustrated
-------------------------------------------

AUTHOR: Wilson, Jessie.
TITLE: The royal treasury :
infant reader /
PLACE: London :
PUBLISHER: T. Nelson and Sons,
YEAR: 1900
PUB TYPE: Book
FORMAT: 96 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
SERIES: Harvard reading textbooks preservation microfilm project ; 04508.
NOTES: Microfilm. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Library
Photographic Services, 1994. 1 microfilm reel : negative ; 35 mm.
SUBJECT: Readers (Primary)
OTHER: Royal treasury of story and song.
Infant reader.


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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