Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001219, Thu, 15 Aug 1996 16:29:57 -0700

Footnotes (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE. Brian Walter <bwalter@dobson.ozarks.edu> is correct in
his recollection below. The quote is on p.xvii of VN's "Introduction" to
the Time/Life 1964 edition of BEND SINISTER.

If memory serves (I don't have my bookshelf handy at the moment), one of
VN's choicest comments on the scholar's asterisk appears near the end of
the introduction he added to BEND SINISTER in the early 1960's (not long
after PALE FIRE's publication, I think): "Footnotes always seem comic to a
certain type of mind" (or something very similar). The declaration
appears amid the author's rather defensively-toned (and perhaps excessive)
explanations of several of his first 'American' novel's more recondite

I hope I have this right. This particular line appears as an epigraph to
my dissertation's final chapter, and I'd be a bit mortified to find, upon
returning to my office, that I have the source wrong.

Brian Walter
University of the Ozarks
415 N. College Ave.
Clarksville, AR 72830
(501) 979-1339 or 754-3499

On Thu, 15 Aug 1996, Donald Barton Johnson wrote:

> EDITOR'S NOTE. Alphonse Vinh <AVINH@npr.org> at NAtional Public Radio
> provides a chance for immortality on a topic dear to the academical heart.
> ----------------------------------------
> I am working with a correspondent on putting together a story based on
> yesterday's New York Times article, "Footnotes Offering Fewer Insights,"
> written by William H. Honan. Yall should take a look at it. As it is, my
> book manuscript upon which I have laboured for > 3 years has roughly 77 pages
> of footnotes (I do hope I am not a "harmful drudge").
> I thought it would be fun for this NPR story to begin with references
> to Nabokov's views on footnoting, especially considering the Master's 1400
> paged commentary to "You-gin One-gin" and the never-to-be-forgotten Dr Charles
> Kinbote's footnotes to the masterpiece of a fictional American poet.
> Would any of yall have some nice quotations from Nabokov or Dr Kinbote
> I could use in the piece? I welcome recommendations for choice tidbits.
> Alphonse Vinh