NABOKV-L post 0015907, Tue, 22 Jan 2008 11:07:25 -0000

Re: SIGHTING: Reb Vladimir
Rachel Trousdale (Agnes Scott) gave a paper featuring the Yiddish Policeman's Union at the Nabokov in Transition conference in Oxford last July.

Barbara Wyllie
----- Original Message -----
From: Nabokv-L
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 2:53 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] SIGHTING: Reb Vladimir

-------- Original Message -------- Subject: Reb Vladimir
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 15:06:32 -0500
From: M Juliar <>

Michael Chabon's (Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) Nabokov interests have been pointed out. His latest novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, a mazy, noirish thriller embedded in a recoursed river of Jewish history, dubs Nabokov with an honorific that I can't imagine that Nabokov ever imagined for himself. From the novel's overlooked Author's Note:

...the Zugzwang of Mendel Shpilman was devised by Reb Vladimir Nabokov and is presented in his Speak, Memory.

Zugzwang is the chess term for being put at a disadvantage by being obliged to make a move. Here, it refers to a chess problem involving Zugzwang. Mendel Shpilman is the poor chess-playing soul, the discovery of whose corpse kicks off the story. And Reb is the Jewish title of respect often applied to a learned man or teacher. The problem is, of course, the one on page 293 of the Vintage Speak, Memory.

Reb Vladimir feels so right to me.

Michael Juliar

Search the Nabokv-L archive with Google

Contact the Editors

All private editorial communications, without exception, are read by both co-editors.

Visit Zembla

View Nabokv-L Policies

Search the archive:
Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies: