NABOKV-L post 0020272, Tue, 6 Jul 2010 12:22:38 -0400

Nabokov’s private tr agedy and a call for suggestio ns ...

the outbound

Nabokov’s private tragedy and a call for suggestions

July 6, 2010 by Alina Muller Leave a Comment

Nabokov loved to write on notecards

I have started to compile a themed reading list for my summer reading. The theme is ‘works by authors who have spent a relatively big part of their lives living in a different country’. This would include both authors who spent only part of their lives abroad, like Julio Cortázar, and those who spent most of their lives in a different country, like James Joyce. It would also include authors that lived abroad but wrote in their first language, again like Julio Cortázar, or that lived abroad and wrote in the language of their new home country, like Herta Muller, Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Conrad. The theme of the books doesn’t have to be the immigrant experience. I am more curious about finding out if these authors have something in common that could potentially be attributed to their shared experience as migrants, or if they don’t at all. I would appreciate your suggestions!

And so I leave you with a few words of Nabokov, where he explicitly addresses one aspect of his experience, the language:

“My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody’s concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses – the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions – which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way.”

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: