NABOKV-L post 0000713, Wed, 13 Sep 1995 09:39:34 -0700

Nabokov in fiction (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------

>From Mac Daly (

Does anyone know of fictional texts in which Nabokov is
mentioned/appears as a character?
This is a note on Nabokov's appearance in two recent short
stories. The first is Ellis Sharp's "Tinctures, Stains, Relics", in
his collection _The Aleppo Button_ (London, Malice Aforethought
Press, 1991). The narrator of this story has a tendency to comically
mix up the lives of famous with not-so famous people (his biggest mix-
up is between Charles Fort and Karl Marx, to each of whom he
attributes the other's works). This tendency explains the following
paragraph (pp. 75-6):

I have the impression Lenin might conceivably have written
something of real worth had he not been knocked off his bicycle
and killed by a motorist near Juvisy-sur-Orge in the autumn of
1909. Another devotee of Fort's work was Trotsky, a long-
forgotten Russian exile who was captured in Petrograd by
the Provisional Government and killed in ambiguous
circumstances at the end of August 1917, after the successful
coup by General Kornilov. (There is even a story that Vladimir,
son of V.D.Nabokov - the Minister killed in the bungled
assassination attempt on Prime Minister Miliukov in March 1922
- had a hand in the killing, but it must be said that this
seems unlikely. Nabokov Junior, a minor comic novelist, cannot
help us here: he died in May 1940 when the _Champlain_ was
torpedoed off the French coast by a German submarine.)

(Nabokov senior, a leader of the Kadet Party, is incidentally
portrayed scathingly throughout Trotsky's _The History of the Russian
Revolution_ [3 vols., London, Gollancz, 1932-3].)

The second story is my own "Fog? Did You Say Fog?", in Mac Daly
and Ellis Sharp, _Engels on Video_ (London, Zoilus Press, 1995). This
story is narrated by Sigmund Freud, who has been summoned to Elsinore
by King Claudius to psychoanalyse the latter's step son. Hamlet keeps
failing to turn up for their appointments, however, and Freud is left
to wander the castle, where he meets, among others, Vladimir Ilyich
Lenin, who is on his way to Russia via Sweden and Finland. Lenin
tells him that Hamlet is "out raising sprits". The following is from
p. 145:

Hamlet crashed through the door in a condition of euphoria.
"Oh, Vlad!" he gestured. "Oh, Ziggy!" he added clamantly. "Oh ...
I looked aside at Vladimir, whose face wore a
sinking expression. "Not me," he affirmed. "Another Vladimir."
"The ghost of NABOKOV, huge and sullen and angry, rising
from sulphurous and tormenting flames! _Hamlet!_ he hailed me.
_Haaaaaaaamlet! What the fuck are you doing in a short fiction
with Freud and Lenin? If thou hast nature in thee bear it not,
but get back to chapter seven of my_ Bend Sinister _where you
belong! Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against
me more! Move your arse and move it pronto!_ And so, my
friends, I must fly!"
"You bloody potato-head, Hamlet!" Lenin railed, getting
to his feet. "Don't you realise Nabokov is simply shitting
himself on account of the incipient Russian revolution? He
wants you back in his novel so that you can't be here to
guarantee me safe passage through Denmark! Has nobody told you
that you aren't even the hero in chapter seven of _Bend
Hamlet looked indignant. "Me? Not the hero? Who is?"
"That's ... that's ..." For a moment Hamlet was genuinely
lost for words. "Why, that's just _awful_."
Lenin let this sink in. Just as Hamlet's resolve seemed to be
evaporating he offered a lifeline. "If you want to be of some use,
why don't you go to the Scylla and Charybdis chapter of Joyce's
Hamlet asked, "Will I be a hero there?"
"Of sorts," said Lenin. "Joyce will give you a uniform, a
modern military training, and a maxim to live by: _Khaki Hamlets
don't hesitate to shoot_. Then you could come to Russia with me."
Hamlet put a hand to his head. "I'll need time to think
about that one, Vlad," he said.

Neither book is distributed in the U.S., but both (in paperback)
can be obtained by mail order from Zoilus Press, London. Anyone who
wants more details should contact me.
I'll happily send "Fog? Did You Say Fog?" by e-mail to anyone who
wants it - again, drop me a note.