NABOKV-L post 0024150, Sat, 4 May 2013 09:20:11 -0700

Did VN know German? and a library is announced
Haphazard trouvailles seem to be piling up to validate my suspicion that Nabokov
was a Hoffman reader at some time.

Dear Jansy,

I too have been a cat person in the past - but these days it's all dogs and
horses. You suspect N of being a secret admirer of Hoffmann, and I suspect his
German was much better than he let on. Why? Keine Ahnung. No, actually I am sure
that he read Goethe in the original and Hoffmann, too,. I do believe that the
"von Lichberg" Lolita was probably read by VN in Berlin in '23 when it came out.
The German is very simple. I only have high school German and I could read it

I love the "burst appendix" in your attic. I too have books coming out of the
seams - but, I am proud to announce that Westminster Cottage (where I live now)
is being transformed into a Library which will become part of the UC library
system after my passing on. After I die - why not say it. By the end of the
summer, the transformation will be complete and WC (oh dear) will be ready to
admit readers. Some of you may be aware that my alma mater, UCLA, owns a very
beautiful and important library in the West Adams district (close to USC, as it
happens), a sort of mimiatura version of the Huntington Library, the William
Andrews Clark Memorial Library, which is the repository of the largest and most
important collection of Oscar Wildeana in the world. "Westminster Cottage" will
be a branch library, so to speak, of the Clark.

The first tenant of my house (he rented) was Ralph Freud - no relation to
Jansy's Freud, so far as I know (and it's pronouncedfrood), one of the founders
of the Pasadena Play House and the founder of the theater arts department at
UCLA. Most of my book collecting was in the area of modern illustrated books and
fine bindings, music, dance and Russian literature of course. But I am now
collecting in the area of theater as well. My most prized acquisition is a 1705
printing of Shakespeare plays - the first illustrated Shakespear (that's how
it's spelled) ever published. The texts of the plays are considerably shorter
than in the more famous First Folios, and I suspect that they are closer to the
actual text of the plays as they were performed at that time, and Shakespear's
of course.

Forgive my rambling on - but I am really proud of myself in this regard. When
the library is ready, I will invite the List members to visit, so I hope you all
will forgive my prolixity this morning. And now it's back to KP!

From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Sat, May 4, 2013 8:56:59 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Kater Murr

C. Kunin: Murli-kat'! (to purr in Russian, n'est-ce-pas?). Well, I don't know
if E T A Hoffmann (one n or two?) knew Russian or not, but his pussy is indeed
a learned Tom -- and not unNabokovian, you may agree - perhaps even a bit Pale
Fireish: The Life And Opinions Of the Tomcat Murr together with a fragmentary
Biography of Kappelmeister Johannes Kreisler on Random Sheets of Waste Paper is
a complex satirical novel by Prussian Romantic-era author E.T.A. Hoffmann. It
was first published in 1819-1821 as Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr nebst
fragmentarischer Biographie des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler in zufälligen
Makulaturblättern, in two volumes. A planned third volume was never completed.
It was Hoffmann's final novel and is considered his masterpiece. It reflected
his concepts of aesthetics, and predated post-modern literary techniques in its
unusual structure. Critic Alex Ross writes of the novel, "If the phantasmagoric
'Kater Murr' were published tomorrow as the work of a young Brooklyn hipster, it
might be hailed as a tour de force of postmodern fiction."

Jansy Mello: What a find, Carolyn. It seems to anticipate Kinbote's muddling
of Zembla and Shade's life in New Wye. I had already posted something about
certain similarities and references in the VN-L concerning "Hoffmann's short
story 'My Cousin's Corner Window' [ in Berlin, that] is the dominant feature
of a "small room with a low ceiling, high above the street" "That is the usual
custom of writers and poets," writes Hoffmann. "What does the low ceiling
matter? Imagination soars aloft and builds a high and cheerful dome that rises
to the radiant blue sky.".and, recently, about the doll Olympia and the Sandman
(from Freud's article on the "Uncanny"). Haphazard trouvailles seem to be
piling up to validate my suspicion that Nabokov was a Hoffman reader at some
Since I used to be a cat-person (now there's Stark in my life, a devilish black
shipperke dog) and collected many stories about them, I'll start to read a
forgotten collection of ."Feline Fairy Tales" [ The King of the Cats and
other... edited by John Richard Stephens, Faber and Faber] following your
original push.I wish I could remember the plot of a cat one in Karel Kapek's
(or find his book "Nine Fairy Tales and one thrown in for good measure"
that's lost in "the burst appendix" of my attic).
Perhaps there are other cats in VN besides Hodges (there's the intriguing cat
with celadon eyes that spurns milk in RLSK) Some who understand human language
and act as spies all over the house retelling gossip for example, written by

It's difficult to forget that Nabokov even read with delight his uncle's
collection from La Semaine
de Suzette and Bibliothèque‎

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