Vladimir Nabokov

Parker, Stephen Jan

Stephen Jan Parker (1939-2016), a student in VN's Masterpieces of European Literature course at Cornell in 1958, became one of the first to write a PhD on VN (on the Russian novels), also at Cornell. In the 1970s he visited and interviewed Nabokov in Montreux and increasingly became a friend of the family, especially of Dmitri Nabokov. A professor in Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Kansas, he set up in 1978 the Vladimir Nabokov Society and its biannual organ, Vladimir Nabokov Research Newsletter, from 1983 renamed as the Nabokovian, which persisted until 2015, the year after his death, before being transformed into The Nabokovian website. In the days before widespread personal computers and the Internet, The Nabokovian allowed Nabokov scholars to be informed of one another's work and new Nabokov publications, and to receive an updated bibliography (much of tis content supplied by Véra Nabokov, who trusted and worked closely with Parker). With George Gibian of Cornell's Slavic Department, Parker set up the first Nabokov conference, at Cornell in 1983. He helped creative a cohesive center for Nabokov studies. Parker was not a prolific scholar Among his core solo publications (he also published on Russian matters with his mother, Fan Parker) were a long entry on Nabokov for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, v.3 (1980), and his lucid, unpretentious Understanding Vladimir Nabokov (1987). He has left notes toward an annotated catalog of VN's library in Montreux, a project he worked on for many years but did not bring to completion.