NABOKV-L discussion


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"A certain Hindu calculator" in SM (source) matthew_roth Fri, 01/24/2020 - 11:53

Dear List,

While rooting around in the list archives, I happened on a 2006 post from the late, great Stan Kelly-Bootle (we miss you, Stan!) where he checked VN's math from the following passage in SM, and found it correct:

Anecdote about Nabokov and Ayn Rand

Submitted by tom_ribitzky on Sat, 01/11/2020 - 16:36

A few years ago, I remember reading an anecdote about how Nabokov was asked what he thought of Ayn Rand. He said he was hardly familiar with her, but would be glad to teach her how to write :) I was wondering if anyone happened to know the source of this anecdote so that I can cite it? I can't remember where I read it, but any leads would be appreciated. Thanks!

Nabokov Secondary Bibliography: Bibliography ON Nabokov Brian_Boyd Tue, 01/07/2020 - 19:56

Dear Nabokovians,


The Nabokov secondary bibliography is now ready for use. It has been a difficult task importing the old Zembla secondary bibliography, which was up to date to 2009, into the system. This is done, and ready for use, and now we want you both to use the bibliography and to bring it up to the present.


We very much count on our users to correct and augment the bibliography, which is decidedly a work in progress, and, to remain useful, will always be so.


Early Russian Wealth

Submitted by zack_yota on Sat, 12/07/2019 - 15:30

I have been compiling research on the Nabokov family's life in the Russian Empire. I've been consulting Brian Boyd heavily, but there are still some gaps I would like to fill -- hoping some of you can help. I'm specifically wondering about the cars. I believe there were five, but I do not know the make and model. Does anyone have access to a photo from that time period with their cars in it? Also when Boyd talks about the 50 servants from VN's childhood, do you think he includes the governess in that number? 

Poling in Arizona — A More Likely Source for Lolita’s Poling Prize

Submitted by Alain Champlain on Sat, 11/30/2019 - 02:20

While reading Nabokov’s Butterflies, I came across a likely source for the “Poling Prize” given to John Ray Jr. for his “modest” work “Do the Senses [M]ake Sense?” which prize helped him land the job as editor of Humbert’s manuscript.

The source is Nabokov’s paper, Some new or little known Nearctic Neonympha, which, far from modest, Nabokov referred to as “my big work.” Here are the references to Poling:

Pale Fire - Evidently a Joke

Submitted by Alain Champlain on Wed, 10/30/2019 - 21:16

I'd like to point out an element of Nabokov's style in Pale Fire, which is his use of words like "obviously" and "evidently." These go a long way in creating the voice for Kinbote. They also often signal an irony, a joke which Kinbote isn't a part of, helping to reveal a reality which Kinbote is in conflict with. (I want to stress the joke aspect though: Nabokov is really funny, and I don't want that to get lost in academese.)

Here are a few examples:

Re: Brown Study

Submitted by MARYROSS on Thu, 10/24/2019 - 13:08

Re: Brown Study


This is a continuation of an idea I proposed in a comment on in Alain Champlain’s post, “Tea With Ancestors.”  Since it is rather long, I don’t wish to hijack Alain’s insightful take on Shade’s poem lines 365-366 (Submitted by Alain Champlain on Sun, 10/20/2019 - 16:22) 


[...] and you would be
In your own study, twice removed from me,”

Q & H

Submitted by Shakeeb_Arzoo on Tue, 10/22/2019 - 15:38

For a long time I was wondering why this phrasing sounded so familiar (the scene where Quilty is murdered):

"He was naked and goatish under his robe, and I felt suffocated as he rolled over me. I rolled over him. We rolled over me. They rolled over him. We rolled over us."

Apart from the instinctive farcical-comedy of the scene, I always felt an echo of something I had read before. Was casually re-reading some Joyce, when I came across this:

Tea with Ancestors

Submitted by Alain Champlain on Sun, 10/20/2019 - 19:22

I mentioned recently, in my post "A FEW BRIEF NOTES ON SPACETIME IN PALE FIRE," that "twice removed" might in part be a joke about John and Sybil Shade being related. Two pertinent lines:

"[...] and you would be
In your own study, twice removed from me,”
(Lines 365-366)

“John Shade’s wife [...] was a few months his senior. I understand she came of Canadian stock, as did Shade’s maternal grandmother (a first cousin of Sybil’s grandfather, if I am not greatly mistaken).”
(From note to line 247)