NABOKV-L post 0001183, Mon, 22 Jul 1996 10:15:16 -0700

1. Some time ago, a subscriber reported Melvin Jules Bukiet's sketch
"Squeak, Memory" in the humor issue of THE PARIS REVIEW (#136, Fall 1995,
pp. 223-35). The tale describes a pseudo-, semi- encounter with VN by the
author in New York in the Watergate summer of 1973. The journal issue
contains several passing mentions of VN. Perhaps most interesting is Harold
Bloom's comment. Bloom, who has edited critical anthologies on
Lolita and on VN and who suggested in his Introduction to the latter that
VN over perhaps overrated, offers the following:

"Incidentally, one of the great comic writers of this century
would be Nabokov, necessarily, because PALE FIRE may be the most
hilarious book by a modern American writer. Russian as he was, one thinks
of him as an American writer because he writes in the American language.
The notes in PALE FIRE, and this sort of pseudo-Frostian poem itself,
must be the most high-pitched successful humor, deliberately deadpan
comic. It is quite astonishing how well Nabokov could do that." (59)
2. It has long been known that Edmund Wilson called VN's attention to an
obscure, anonymous essay called "Confession sexuelle d'un Russe du Sud, ne
vers 1870..."which had appeared as an appendix in the French edition of
the works of Havelock Ellis (See Wilson's letter of June 1, 1948.). It is
the autobiographical account of a Russian pedophile. The British Slavist
Donald Rayfield, who provides an useful "Postface," published a
translation in 1984 under the title THE CONFESSIONS OF VICTOR X. The
British edition was republished by Grove Press in 1985 in the U.S. I
notice that the Crown chain is now carrying the volume in paper for $3.
VN obliquely mentions the work in SPEAK, MEMORY and elsewhere. In
response to Wilson's gift, VN says: "I enjoyed the Russian's love-life
higely. It is wonderfully funny. As a boy, he seems to have been quite
extraordinarily lucky in coming across girls with inusually rapid and
rich reactions. The end is rather bathetic" (VN letter of 10 June 1948).
Hard core Lolitologists may want to add this oddity to their collections.

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