Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001453, Mon, 18 Nov 1996 09:53:58 -0800

VN Bibliography
EDITOR's NOTE: Many of the subscribers to NABOKV-L are scholars engaged in
research on VN. Most of us perforce read a lot of VN criticism and
scholarship which pours out in awesome quantities. It would be MUCH
appreciated if you could take a few minutes to pass on references to
recent items, preferably with a brief description. First of all--to your
own research and publications; secondly (and no less importantly) to
anything you run across. An example of my own follows below.
Those subscribers who follow NABOKV-L out of disinterested
enthusiasm can (and are encouraged to) submit items from the media,
pop-culture, whatever... VN is one of those rare authors whose work (in
various guises) cuts across national boundaries and those of social class.
A sort of reverse Elvis.
The Russian periodical LIERATURNOE OBOZRENIE has published a couple of VN
interesting items this year. The UCSB Library so far has only the
Jan.-Mar. issues.

Non-Russian-reading Nabokov admirers may assume that notoriety came to
the writer only with the publication of LOLITA. Not so. Nabokov was
reviled almost as bitterly in his earlier Russian instar. And not by the
Soviets -- who basically ignored him. A good many of Nabokov's fellow
emigre writers found him and his work in the 20s & 30s objectionable.

1) In LITERATURNOE OBOZRENIE #3, 1996, pp. 110-112, O. Korosteleva presents
"V. Nabokov v otzyvakh soremennikov: Slukhi, spletni, rugan'. K biografii
literaturnoi epokhi" (VN in the Opinion of his Contemporaries: Rumors,
gossip, and abuse. Toward the biography of a Literary Epoch). Many of the
are between between private correspondents or from reviews, including
materials from Georgii Adamovich, Georgii Ivanov, and Vasilii Ianovskii,
on the negative side; Nina Berberova--on the positive; and Xodasevich and
Struve -- mixed. The earliest comment is from one of the 11-year-old VN's
gymnasium teacher who commented: "Dlia menia zagadka. Slog -- Stil'--est'.
Suti net" which, loosely translated, means "He's a mystery to me. Style,
lots of style, but no substance."

2) Issue #2, 1996, is entirely devoted to the contributors to the short-
lived Paris emigre journal CHISLA (circa 1930) whose staff included the
first three critics named above (the anti-Nabokovians). Unlike most emigre
journals, its writers were mostly younger and influenced by recent West
European writers such as Proust and Kafka. Despite sharing some of the
same icons as Nabokov, the journal was staunchly anti-Nabokov and Nabokov
in turn was entirely (and sometimes unjustifiably) hostile to all of the
writers connected with the journal. An acerbic feud developed between VN
and the writers connected with journal, a feud that lasted long past the
demise of the journal until the death of all of the participants.
N. Mel'nikov's article "'Do poslednei kapli chernil...': Vladimir
Nabokov and CHISLA" (pp. 73-82) (To the last drop of blood: VN and [the
Journal] Chisla) offers a careful, balanced, and well thought-out survey
of the feud, looking both at its personal origins and ultimately in terms
of literary philosophies. As with much American writing about Nabokov, the
Russian critics often were so put off by VN's "authorial persona" that
they failed to see that his writing subtly contained views that were not
always incompatible with their own. Although Mel'nikov's essay is a solid
work of scholarship, his extensive quotes from the feuders contain more
than enough vitriol to make it entertaining reading.
Mel'nikov also refers to an earlier piece of his that is probably
worth looking up: "Kriminal'nyi shedevre Vladimira Nabokova i Germana
Karlovicha: O tvorcheskoi istorii romana V.V. Nabokova OTCHAYANIE" in
journal completely unknown to me:_Volshebnaia gora_, no. 2 (1994). Does
anyone have a copy?

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