Many belated thanks for your replies, Brian Boyd and Jansy. Fantastic that more published lectures are in the offing. (By the way, I estimated 15 total lectures based on the books' chapter headings, not considering that some chapters contain multiple--if brief--lectures.)

On a somewhat related note, I hope Edward Jay Epstein will elaborate on his time as VN's movie scout ( I wrote him a few months ago for details about the movies he recommended to VN, as well as Nabokov's opinion of them, and he said he planned to delve further in a later post. If any other listers are as curious, maybe they could gently prod him by email?

Brian T.

On Sat, Aug 23, 2014 at 7:51 PM, Brian Boyd <> wrote:
There are far more than 15 lectures in those three books. The Masterpieces of European Fiction course consisted of about 80 lectures over two semesters, and there’s no reason to think there’s anything substantial missing from the published volumes. Anna Karenin and in some years Dead Souls were part of this course, so it would be a better estimate to say that there were elements of about 40-50 lectures in the Lectures on Literature volume (the material was constantly being tinkered with), and about the same in the Lectures on Russian Literature. Nabokov prepared his text, but he delivered it at a pace that made it seem he was thinking on his feet: he did not simply read the material, and he repeated phrases often, so the contents of a lecture would often fill only a few pages in the finished volume.

There are also lectures that constituted various forms of a Russian survey course, focusing mostly on poetry, especially from Pushkin (who took up a large part of the course, or sometimes was the sole focus of a separate course) to Blok, but with material going back to Avvakum (and no doubt in some years to the Song of Igor’s Campaign, although the lecture material for that was integrated into the book of the same name, as some of the Pushkin material found its way into VN’s EO commentary) and forward as far as Khodasevich and Mandelstam. These should be published within the next few years, and probably constitute about 1.5 times the material in either Lectures on Literature or Lectures on Russian Literature, although like these volumes will have to be edited down, to eliminate material appropriate only for  the classroom and not for the page.

Brian Boyd

On 23/08/2014, at 6:23 am, Brian <> wrote:

I continue to wonder if Nabokov's lecture notes still exist, for books other than the ones published in *Lectures on Literature*, *Lectures on Russian
Literature*, and *Lectures on Don Quixote*? Together those three books contain about 15 lectures, but in one interview (reprinted in *Strong
Opinions*) VN said he wrote 200 lectures:

"In 1940, before launching on my academic career in America, I fortunately took the trouble of writing one hundred lectures--about 2,000 pages--on
Russian literature, and later another hundred lectures on great novelists from Jane Austen to James Joyce. This kept me happy at Wellesley and
Cornell for twenty academic years."

Either 1) VN wildly exaggerated the number of lectures he wrote, by misremembering or fibbing (both seem to me unlikely); or 2) the lectures were lost or destroyed (in which case I'd be curious to know what percentage of his work is believed lost)

Does anyone on the list know if VN's surviving papers make mention of these lectures or how many there were? I'd love to read the remaining 185 or so lectures he wrote, or at least to
know what the books were, since he seems to have lectured primarily on what he considered masterpieces or near-masterpieces.

Many thanks for any help,

Brian Tomba

2014-08-22 13:40 GMT-04:00 Jansy Mello <>:


Crítica: Nabokov esquadrinha obra de russos em livro cativante

O autor de um dos mais relevantes romances do século 20 foi também um agudo divulgador e estudioso da cultura de seu país.
O livro "Lições de Literatura Russa", da Três Estrelas, selo editorial do Grupo Folha, sintetiza parte das atividades letivas do escritor Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) nos Estados Unidos, antes da consagração de "Lolita"[  ].Irônico, polêmico e apaixonado pela literatura, o autor de "Lolita" é tão incapaz de ser humilde e imparcial quanto de ser superficial ou desinteressante. Entre achados iluminadores e diatribes certeiras, sua leitura é um prazer —mesmo quando se discorda dele.”

AUTOR Vladimir Nabokov
TRADUÇÃO Jorio Dauster
EDITORA Três Estrelas
QUANTO R$ 65 (400 págs.)


Google Search
the archive
the Editors
NOJ Zembla Nabokv-L
Subscription options AdaOnline NSJ Ada Annotations L-Soft Search the archive VN Bibliography Blog

All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.