Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000285, Fri, 8 Jul 1994 08:04:35 -0700

VN: executions & torture
Editor's Note: Dieter E. Zimmer, author of the following query/comments, is
the editor of the collected (and heavily annotated) German edition of VN's
works. His annotations are an invaluable source of
information that has been badly neglected by American Nabokovians. Dieter
Zimmer is also the compiler of the first bibliography of VN's writings.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 07 Jul 94 06:00:13 EDT
From: "Dieter E. Zimmer" <100126.2576@compuserve.com>

The Forum query on executioners reminds me of a passage in THE
GIFT (p.203): "...in China it was precisely an actor -- a shadow -- who
fulfilled the duties of the executioner, all responsibility being as it
were lifted from the world of men and transformed into the inside-out one
of mirrors." The German translation of THE GIFT has 150 pages of
annotations, but in this instance we have not been able to say a word
about Nabokov's source.
In PNIN (p.168), there is a list of various atrocities Pnin plans
to lecture about. ("On Tyranny. On the Boot...") Among them are "tortures
which Tibet invented". I have gone through a number of histories of
torture to find out what these might have been, but to no avail. So if
somebody really goes to that Musee des supplices in Paris to do research,
she/he might want to be on the lookout for those two items as well. (By
the way, the old -- 1960 -- German translation of PNIN rendered "the Boot"
as "der Gewinn" (=profit), turning Pnin into a secret communist.)