Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001566, Sun, 15 Dec 1996 08:53:28 -0800

Dmitri Nabokov on the "gesticulating Dostoevsky" (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 14 Dec 1996 15:05:38 -0800 (PST)
From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>
To: Nabokov <Nabokv-L@ucsbvm.ucsb.edu>
Subject: Dmitri Nabokov on the "gesticulating Dostoevsky" (fwd)

From: Donald Barton Johnson <chtodel@humanitas.ucsb.edu>

EDITOR'S NOTE. On Dec. 9th (1996) Dustin Pascoe sent item I below. The
Editor added his NOTE (item II). On Dec. 12, Dmitri Nabokov generously
commented on the items (see item III). NABOKV-L thanks Dmitri Nabokov for
his information. ------------------------------------------------

Item I--From: dcpasc0@service1.uky.edu

I have a question about something from *Lectures on Literature*,
specifically the *Bleak House* section. When N says (something very much
like [I don't have the text on me]) "Lady Dedlock is redeemed through
suffering, and Dostoyevsky is seen wildly gesticulating in the background"
did he expect his students to get this allusion? Had he already taught FMD,
so they would understand the context? Did he actually _say_ it? The notes
were in some intermediate on-the-way-to-the-publisher state, right? So was
that line the kind of thing added only later for the reading audience? I
know that N didn't exactly need for his audience to "get" all of his jokes,
but his novels are one thing, and I wondered what he imagined his students
were capable of.

Dustin C. Pascoe
University of Kentucky

II.-- EDITOR'S NOTE. In partial answer to Dustin Pascoe's original
question--so far as I recall, VN didn't get around to editing his lecture
notes for publication so I doubt the "gesticulating Dostoevsky" is a late
interpolation. AS to whether the students would recognize the dig, it
depends on the students. Most upper division humanities students will have
read some Dostoevsky and some of them might well note his hysterical tone
and the redemption through suffering theme. And VN may well have tossed in
comments about Dostoevsky earlier in the course.


Dear Don,

Absolutely right. Although Father had planned to publish
the continuously evolving lectures eventually, he never got
around to editing the much revised, partly typed working
texts. Editing was done by Fredson Bowers, with some help
from Mother and me, after VN's death, for the HBJ/Bruccoli
published versions.

The notes were certainly NOT in an on-the-way-to-the-publisher state, but
were working texts as used, with some variations and improvisations, in
the classroom.