Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000282, Thu, 7 Jul 1994 13:57:57 -0700

Jeffrey Meyers, Nabokov, Edmund Wilson (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 1994 13:30:01 EST
From: EJNICOL@root.indstate.edu

The current e-mail discussion of an ugly-looking passage in a
Fitzgerald letter was prompted by a *New Yorker* review of Jeffrey
Meyers' new biography, *Scott Fitzgerald*. One point of that review
was to complain that Meyers both finds out the worst things he can
about his subject and also belittles his subject's accomplishments.
As Fitzgerald's letter was quoted in that context, it is possible
that in its entirety the letter might sound quite different from what
Meyers quotes and the *New Yorker* requotes.
Anyway, that review of Jeffrey Meyers' biograffiti serves as a
warning in reading an article by Meyers on Nabokov and Edmund Wilson
that has just appeared in *The American Scholar* for Summer 1994
(pages 379-99, no notes). Meyers discusses the N/W friendship but
focuses mainly on the quarrel, this being his kind of meat. He
ultimately decides that Wilson caused the quarrel (his vicious review
of Nabokov's *Eugene Onegin*) because he had become jealous of
Nabokov's success and accomplishments, just as Wilson had earlier
become jealous of Fitzgerald and had quarreled with him.
On the way, Meyers has many unpleasant things to say about both
Nabokov and Wilson--especially about their arrogance. He also
suggests that nobody at all liked Nabokov's Onegin translation, and
manages to dismiss everybody else who has written about the N&W
affair in a sentence each. Sample (since Gene got this Fitzgerald
business started): "And Gennady Barabtarlo, who examined the
material on Naobkov in the Wilson archive at Yale, has not found new
evidence about the reasons for the quarrel" (this and next quote on
381). Gene, I knew you did this research, but I must have missed
what you published; anyway, the point is that Meyers sort of suggests
that your labors were entirely in vain, which is also the way he
dismisses "even Brian Boyd" because Boyd "reduces Wilson's motive to
simple envy"--although this seems to be Meyers' own conclusion as
Anyway, a mildly interesting rehash of the N/W business,
particularly for those who prefer slash-and-burn farming.