Robert Boyle: "You'll find VN's reaction to Gazdanov in this brief note in the Archive.   I submitted it to the Forum in 2008: ""Asked about Gaito Gazdanov, an emigre writer in Paris whose novels, Buddha's Return, and The Specter of Alexander Wolf, brought V.'s  early works to my mind, he shuddered and dismissed him as"that cabdriver.'" ...   I made no mention of Gazdanov's An Evening with Claire because I did not read it until five or so years ago after I found a copy for sale in Australia. Ah, yes, an added point from VN, so I recall now.  He said that Gazdanov was an Ossetian, not  a Russian, a point confirmed by others but who said he was from a Russified family. "


Jansy Mello: Thanks again but... Ouch!  "that cabdriver [    ] an Ossetian, not a Russian"? At least, the latter helps me to dismiss the possibility that VN's cruel joke against the Russian cabdriver Maximovich in "Lolita" could indicate Gazdanov.

There are extremely light (gratuitous) indicators, though: "White Russian..Middle-class Russian courtesy (with an oriental tang, perhaps)... a return to Valeria and husband and a reference to the Georgia coast... "(I underlined these in the quotes below):


quotes: "A mounting fury was suffocating me [   ] and here she was, Valeria, the comedy wife, brazenly preparing to dispose in her own way of my comfort and fate. I demanded her lover's name. [  ]and she...gave a quick shrug and pointed at the thick neck of the taxi driver. He pulled up at a small café and introduced himself. I do not remember his ridiculous name but after all those years I still see him quite clearly — a stocky White Russian ex-colonel with a bushy mustache and a crew cut; there were thousands of them plying that fool's trade in Paris.[   ] I can swear that he actually consulted me on such things as her diet, her periods, her wardrobe and the books she had read or should read. "I think," — he said, "She will like Jean Christophe?" Oh, he was quite a scholar, Mr. Taxovich.[   ] I cannot say he behaved insolently or anything like that; on the contrary, he displayed, as a small sideshow in the theatricals I had been inveigled in, a discreet old-world civility, punctuating his movements with all sorts of mispronounced apologies[   ] I noticed with a spasm of fierce disgust that the former Counselor of the Tsar, after thoroughly easing his bladder, had not flushed the toilet.[   ] Actually I daresay it was nothing but middle-class Russian courtesy (with an oriental tang, perhaps) that had prompted the good colonel (Maximovich! his name suddenly taxies back to me), a very formal person as they all are, to muffle his private need in decorous silence so as not to underscore the small size of his host's domicile with the rush of a gross cascade on top of his own hushed trickle. [   ] I had my little revenge in due time. A man from Pasadena told me one day that Mrs. Maximovich née Zborovski had died in childbirth around 1945; the couple had somehow got over to California and had been used there, for an excellent salary, in a year-long experiment conducted by a distinguished American ethnologist. The experiment dealt with human and racial reactions to a diet of bananas and dates in a constant position on all fours. My informant, a doctor, swore he had seen with his own eyes obese Valechka and her colonel, by then gray-haired and also quite corpulent, diligently crawling about the well-swept floors of a brightly lit set of rooms (fruit in one, water in another, mats in a third and so on) in the company of several other hired quadrupeds, selected from indigent and helpless groups. I tried to find the results of these tests in the Review of Anthropology; but they appear not to have been published yet. These scientific products take of course some time to fructuate. I hope they will be illustrated with photographs when they do get printed, although it is not very likely that a prison library will harbor such erudite works." 1,8


'From a hired motor-boat operated by an elderly, but still repulsively handsome White Russian, a baron they said (Lo's palms were damp, the little fool), who had known in California good old Maximovich and Valeria, we could distinguish the inaccessible "millionaires' colony" on an island, somewhere off the Georgia coast. We inspected further: a collection of European hotel picture post cards in a museum devoted to hobbies at a Mississippi resort, where with a hot wave of pride I discovered a colored photo of my father's Mirana, its striped awnings, its flag flying above the retouched palm trees." [   ]2,2.


I look forward to reading Gazdanov's translated novels soon.

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