Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000216, Mon, 28 Feb 1994 09:07:14 -0800

Field vs Sexton Trial (fwd)
On January 5, 1992 David Sexton, the literary editor of the _Sunday
Telegraph_ (London), published his review of the second volume of Brian
Boyd's Nabokov biography. Sexton, who had completed most of a doctoral
dissertation on Nabokov at Cambridge, opened his review:
"`The first biography, no matter what comes after, casts a certain
shadow on the others.' So Vladimir Nabokov said to his own first
biographer, Andrew Field.
It was a prescient remark--although Nabokov could hardly have
foreseen the extent to which Field's incompetence and malice would darken
the last days of his life and assault his reputation after his death."

Sexton went on to sketch the history of Field's two biographies
and their author's stormy relationship with his subject. Field brought a
libel action against the _Sunday Telegraph_, and Sexton. After nearly two
years, the case came to trial on January 17th. Field, having earlier
dismissed his own attorney, very quickly folded under cross-examination
and dropped his case. He incurred legal costs of 25,000 pounds.
Because of the brevity of the trial, none of the defense
witnesses, which included Brian Boyd and Dmitri Nabokov, were called. An
account of the trial may be found in the _Sunday Telegraph_ of 23 January 1994.