Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000266, Tue, 7 Jun 1994 11:03:05 -0700

vncollation#6 (fwd)
Suellen Stringer-Hye provides her sixth monthly survey of Nabokoviana.
Once again her material demonstrates how widely Nabokov's work has
penetrated into popular culture. DBJ

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 1994 11:20:00 -0500 (CDT)

"Lentil, Len-til. Len. Til. Lennnnntillllllllllllll.
Lentilita, Lovely luscious lentil.

Okay so maybe it made more sense when Nabokov did it.
Perhaps a man's love for his lentils isn't the stuff of
great novels."

But who is Nabokov anyway? That's what British journalist Andrew
Neil who will soon take a job in New York as editor and chief
reporter of a new television current affairs program on the FOX
network is famed by his countrymen for asking at a conference of
senior editors. Proof of ignorance or feigned unawareness,
"Fergie", as Charles Nevin of the _Independent_ calls him, is a
ferocious, bullying sort of guy who "puts himself across wittily
and often savagely. Great TV".

Another Brit, John Osborne, author of _John Osborne on England_
who if the reviewer has portrayed him correctly seems to be a
sort of British Rush Limbaugh, doesn't like, because he doesn't
seem to know, who Nabokov is either. The reviewer says that
Osborne reveals traits that he claims to despise in others,

"Contempt", "brutishness", bullying", "lustreless
discourtesy" : they crop up again and again, these
words - Nabokov is a brute and a bully - with

_The Guardian_ April 30, 1994

Lulu's zany new furniture shop opened this month in Ottawa,

"This is the tale of the Lolita couch, not quite what
Vladimir Nabokov had in mind but still a great story:
'I have this friend Lolita, and she had this wonderful
love affair, and together, she and her lover got this
sofa with an oblong back and long seat, very deco,
covered in this wonderful black damask. Well they
broke up, and she phoned me to say, 'I just can't leave
him the sofa, Will you take it? A few days later a
very deserving...couple bought the Lolita couch.

Now the very fun thing about this story, the very Nabokovian
thing about this story, perhaps the only item of interest in
relation to this story, is the way THIS couch thematically echoes
in tint if not in texture the black divan furnishing the
burnished library of the Veen family estate, in Ladore County,
located on the Atlantic panel of the U.S.A.
_Ottawa Citizen_ May 18,1994

"In his memoirs, the Russian emigre writer
Vladimir Nabokov 'accidentally mentions that his family
despised Faberge objects as emblems of grotesque
garishness'." This at least is how Alexander von
Solodkoff (of the Ermitage Gallery in London) puts it
in a fascinating essay, "Tracing Faberge Treasures
after 1918. "

This essay is to be found in the book _Faberge: Imperial
Jeweler,_ which was published coincidentally with a recent
Faberge exhibition shown in London Paris and St. Petersburg.
The editorial comment of the Christian Science monitor's reviewer

"But Faberge is not to everyone's taste, however varied his
styles may have been. One suspects that Nabokov's remark
was hardly "accidental." It may have been incidental - an
aside - but he clearly wanted it to be known by his readers
that not all Russians automatically admired their famous
court jeweler.
_The Christian Science Monitor_ May 9, 1994

At a recent Antiquarian Booksellers conference in Los Angeles a
pristine and rare letter in Russian from Nabokov to his friend
Gleb Struve appeared. The sales blurb said it was,

" ...a letter to Struve criticizing several poems Struve had
written for inclusion in a periodical on which Nabokov was
employed. Nabokov letters of this vintage and with
significant content rarely appear on the market."

Also, a rare find from Ken Lopez, an antiquarian book dealer in
Hadley Massachusetts, a first edition Olympia Press _Lolita_:

NABOKOV, Vladimir. _Lolita_. Paris: Olympia Press (1955).
The correct first edition of Nabokov's masterwork, published
in Paris. One of the highspots of 20th century literature.
Two volumes in wrappers, this being the second issue--
distinguished from the first by the presence of a price
sticker over the original price on the back cover of Volume
II. A beautiful, fine set of this novel, with only the
slightest rubbing on the joints, and extremely scarce in
such condition. The first printing is stated by the
bibliographer as being "probably 5000 copies". No
indication is given of how many may have been in stock at
the publisher's when the price was changed, but it should be
noted that there is no variation between the first
issue("issue a" of the bibliographer ) and the second
("issue b") other than the price sticker being added: these
are the same sheets, bound at the same time, as the first
issue; they were just sold at retail at a later date. In a
custom quarter-leather clamshell box. $3000

Perhaps you have "searched" the computer, as I have, using
Nabokov as a "keyword" and run into Peter Nabokov,
anthropologist, author, and in the end relative to Vladimir
Nabokov. I encountered him so many times and so insistently
did his name require that I discover what connection, if any he
had with our shared protagonist that, after a less than thorough
investigation, I determined that:

1. Peter Nabokov is the son of Nicolas Nabokov VN's cousin
and Constance Holladay about whom I know nothing.

2. He was born in Auburn, New York on October the 11th,

3. After graduating from Columbia University where he
received his B.S. in 1965 he led a life of adventure,
scholarship and pedagogy which finally cumulated in a PHD
from Berkely in 1990. He now teaches anthropology at the
University of Wisconsin in Madison where a sign on his
door not so gently jests:

500 years of tourism.

4. His primary interest is in Native Americans about whom he
has written several esteemed and unique works.

In a March 5, San Francisco Chronicle review, Nabokov is profiled
against the background of an obscured family tree:

"It may seem odd that a kid from the lower East Side of New
York would grow up to become a leading expert on Native
American history. But to former Berkeley anthropologist,
Peter Nabokov, now 53, the path from Russian and Scots-
Irish ancestry to his sixth book, _Native American
Testimony_ was 'clear and true' from early childhood.

'I was six when my mother pointed out some bark-covered
wigwams from the window of a train. The sight of them
really struck me. "My God" I thought, "these people
were here all along'

In his ability to recreate a world through the slow steady
cumulation of detail, in the fecundity of his scholarship and the
accuracy of his prose and on many other vibratory vectors, I
consider P. Nabokov to resemble at least slightly his
distinguished cousin.

In closing, you will find excerpts from a short story entitled
"A New Lo; or Everybody into the Meme Pool" by Chuck Hammill
published in (on?) the electronic journal _Holy Temple of Mass
Consumption_. I have given a quick synopsis of the plot and
included the parodic quatrains from the story. The closing lines
from the author are abridged.

This is the story of Charlie Holmes, one time boyfriend to
Dolores Haze of Ramsdale. At this moment he is a Virtual Reality
salesman who after hawking a five minute "ride" to a rich
tourist just arrived from another planet, reminisces about his
first love:

"Like, he is just soooooo possessive, you know?" she
would go on."I mean, OK, he takes me on cross-country trips,
right? And, like, he buys me lotsa nice presents. But,
Jeez, he's got all these rules,you know? He doesn't want me
dating other guys. I can't smoke, I can't do amateur
theater, I can't do this, I can't do that. I mean,
honestly,he treats me like a child! I don't need this."

I'd try to sympathize, of course, but it wasn't easy,
because I still carried a torch for her myself.

Where are you hiding, Dolores Haze?
In your silicon circuitry, snoozin'?
Let me turn on your pixels in sixty-nine ways--
Your end-user's hot for some usin'. . .

* * * *
Charlie loses touch with his childhood sweetheart when he joins
an officers training program but soon is called in to assist in
saving her life when she nearly dies of childbirth in Grey Star,

Let's boot up--I'll jack in--sweet 'Lectronic Lo,
Let me nibble your attribute bytes.
Ne'er has a nanonymphet beckoned so,
Giving wirehead! Erotic delights!

* * * *

"Mr. Schiller, Please sit down. I'm afraid I have to speak
to you about your wife and child."

Charlie goes on to accuse Schiller of neglecting his wife and out
of stupidity allowing her to nearly die,
* * * *

Silicon is forever, Dolores Haze,
Come sit on my interface.
When Earth starts to craze in the end-time days,
We'll be loving each other in space.

* * * *

Cyberpunk, cyberpunk, there they are,
Dolores Haze and her lovers:
Fifty million guys 'neath a yellow star,
Sleep with holograms under the covers.

* * * *

Virtual Valerie's long in the tooth,
Ellie Dee's a plain cyber-slut harlot.
'Lectronic Lolita, I tell you the truth,
You're my fav'rite A.I. V.R. starlet.

* * * *
Lamenting the near disaster, Charlie moans,

Way too close to the truth. We almost lost her. Honest to
Christ, we almost lost her. My God.

Remember: almost. Only almost. Lo is OK. Girl-child is
OK. Gave birth on the chopper enroute to hospital. Better
than the snake pit they found her in--but there were

* * * *

Let me shower you with goodies, Dolores Haze,
Gigabytes for your memory banks.
Would you like some new circuits? 440 - 3 phase?
I love how you wire me your thanks.

Ma che^`re Lolita, dans le soleil d'e^'te^',
Ma che^`re Lolita, en plein hiver,
En automne, au printemps, je te jure de t'aimer
(A^` moins, jusqu'a^` l'on cesse d'e^^tre fruit

* * * *

And tell me that ain't funnier and truer than that
throat-chokin' gargle that other cheap bastard wrote ya'.


The story is intended as a weird cyberpunk riff on Nabokov's
Lolita, with distinct quantum-relativistic overtones.

First, much of the reminiscing in A New Lo is done by a
character who actually appears in Lolita, but gets maybe four
sentences all together.His name is Charlie Holmes (Galactic
Coincidence Control gets credit for the first name and last
initial), he does take Lo's virginity, and is (in the book)
killed in the war. The point at which one realizes that Lo =
Lolita makes her "boyfriend problems" with Humbert and Quilty
sort of mind-tickling, and even Joycean. (Nabokov himself pays
homage to Joyce with phrases like "portrait of the artist as a
younger brute" and "internal combustion martyr"--and to
surreality generally with Quilty's observation, "Really, Mr.
Humbert, you were not an ideal stepfather.")One gets a single
clue with the reminiscence about Lo going home from camp
to "Ramsdale," but it's a thin one.

The doggerel poetry generally matches the rhyme pattern of
that in the original novel, part 2, Chapter 25, and even
reproduces the key line "Where are you hiding, Dolores Haze?"
which is another clue to who Lo is.

We then pick up the plot of the novel, since, even though
Lolita and her deaf, stupid husband are awash in cash, they do
(in the book) trek to the godforsaken Alaskan wilderness outpost
of Grey Star in her ninthmonth for her to give birth. Charlie
Holmes--Lo's first lover, recall--departs now from his negligible
role in the actual novel to check this out.
Weirdness begins to escalate, as the fat, crazy mercenary he
works with is also an ex-boyfriend of Lo's (which is possible,
since she does spend a couple years traveling around the USA) and
so he takes a personal interest in his job.
Straightforward plot development, and the "check also first
name Lolita" made explicit for the not-too-swift. And a key
observation that Lo's husband may be so stupid as to be

Ever-more-obscene poetry, introducing the phrase "giving
wirehead" into cyberspeak, and the key word (nano)nymphet for
those who still maybe puzzled about who's who.

Cut back to Lo. Doesn't look good for her. Stupid mates
can killya', it seems ever more clear. As in the novel itself,
Lo and her girl-child do endure a very unlucky childbirth on
Christmas Day.
More obscene poetry. Suggests maybe something survived,

Couple more quatrains, one using actual first two lines of
one poem in the actual book, one cutely mentioning a couple of
currently sexy cyber-ladies.


Still weirder. Tying up loose ends. The bit about her age
as 5,300 days comes from one of Humbert's poems in the book.

Quatrain in French, like in original, but got a great rhyme
for French term for nymphet. Quite proud of that.

Still weirder.

Really put out enough relativistic physics to blow 'em away.

Covered a lot of territory, n'est-ce pas?