Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0019621, Sun, 14 Mar 2010 12:22:49 -0400

SIGHTING: "a salad of racial genes"
As a very minor footnote to Matt Roth's neat discovery of the Wilson poem, I
wanted to send along another item in which language from VN's relationship
with Wilson makes an appearance in a Nabokov novel.

In Jeffrey Meyers' *Edmund Wilson: A Biography*, Meyers notes that Nabokov
used the term "a salad of racial genes" (p. 286) to describe Wilson's fourth
and last wife, Elena Mumm Thornton, who was German and Russian. The phrase,
of course, is the same that HH uses to describe his father in *Lolita.*

The quote is not sourced, so it's not clear exactly when Nabokov said it,
though it's included in the 1946-49 section of the book. Another Wilson
biographer, Lewis Dabney, says that Thornton was already known to Nabokov's
family via Russian emigre circles. Meyers adds that Thornton's "grandfather
had been the Russian ambassador to Japan, the Netherlands and the United
States; the women in the family had been ladies-in-waiting at the Czarina's
court." And in a chapter of *The American Years* devoted to the same period,
Boyd reports both Nabokovs liking Elena.


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