Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002482, Sat, 18 Oct 1997 16:18:27 -0700

Re: VN pronunciation (fwd)
From: Jack <geuns@euronet.nl>

On 18 Oct 97 , Mary Krimmel wrote:

> ... A long time fan of VN simply as a reader, have I been mispronouncing
> his name? I took as my guide what I read somewhere - that VN himself
> gave his students the rhyme:
> The querulous squawk of
> the heron at night
> Prompts Nabokov
> to write.
> (I don't remember the form, but am practically sure about the words,
> as I read them in whoever-it-was's article or essay or
> reminiscence.)

You'll find it in Strong Opinions ("Anniversary Notes"). Memory
tricked you and turned Nabokov's silent "gawk" into a loud "squawk".
Also in Strong Opinions:
"As to pronunciation, Frenchmen of course say Nabo/koff/, with the
accent on the last syllable. Englishmen say /Nab/okov, accent on the
first, and Italians say Nabokov, accent in the middle, as Russians
also do. Na-/bo/-kov. A heavy open "o" as in "Knickerbocker". My New
England ear is not offended by the long elegant middle "o" of Nabokov
as delivered in American academies. The awful "Na-bah-kov" is a
despicable gutterism. Well, you can make your choice now."
(Chapter 5, VN's adaption of a 1965 TV interview).

Hans Geuns