NABOKV-L post 0017436, Mon, 8 Dec 2008 23:01:35 +0100

Subject
Re: QUERY: Thomas Mann and VN?
Date
Body

>
> Is there evidence that Thomas Mann [d. 1955] had read Nabokov? are
> there known comments? I find none in the Archive.
>
> Thanks.
>
> Sandy Drescher
>

Here is the archived abstract of my MA thesis on the subject:
http://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0707&L=nabokv-l&T=0&P=3077

Short answer: There is no evidence.

Long answer: Some striking similarities between Nabokov¹s Sebastian Knight
and Mann¹s Doktor Faustus suggest that Mann might have known Nabokov¹s book.
He was also in contact with Nabokov¹s first American publisher and a few
other intellectuals and academics who were early admirers of Nabokov¹s
English prose. But these links are too weak to count as circumstantial
evidence, and they are countered by the fact that neither Mann¹s letters nor
his notoriously detailed diaries make any mention of Nabokov. The
similarities between Nabokov¹s and Mann¹s novel can only be discussed within
a broader context, not by asserting a direct influence.
Apart from this specific issue, it is possible ­ not provable - that Mann
read some of Nabokov¹s contributions to journals and magazines in the 1940s.
(For example, Mann notes in his diary that he read the 1st issue of Russian
Review which contained Nabokov¹s essay on Lermontov.) But if he read these
articles, he did not find them impressive enough to note the name of the
author. As far as I can tell after following several tracks, there is no
factual evidence that Mann consciously read any of Nabokov¹s writings. It¹s
a fascinating question, but looking for answers is not a very rewarding
pastime.

Jan Stottmeister



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