Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025803, Wed, 5 Nov 2014 21:32:49 -0500

QUERY: Missing ENCHANTER and the story Edmund Wilson read
Robert Roper (robertroper@earthlink.net) writes:

The standard acct of the publication of *The Enchanter* is that N wrote
*Volshebnik* in '39, then thought he lost the sole copy, only to rediscover
it in '59. (In that year he wrote a letter to publisher Walter Minton
saying it might be interesting to bring out, as a precursor to *Lolita*.)
Then in the mid-80s Dmitri made his excellent translation, published '86.

But Edmund Wilson, in his letter of Nov. 30, '54, giving his tepid response
to *Lolita*, which he had just partly-read in ms., says, "Now about your
novel: I like it less than anything else of yours I have read. The short
story that it grew out of was interesting, but I don't think the subject
can stand this very extended treatment": *DBDV*, p 320.

What story is Wilson talking about? Had N shown him (therefore,
rediscovered earlier) the *Volshebnik* ms? Wilson was still in a hot
period of his enthusiasm for Russian, so he might have been up to
reading the original, or at least part of it.

Any info or ideas much welcome-
Robert Roper

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
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