NABOKV-L post 0018915, Sat, 5 Dec 2009 03:47:03 -0200

Fw: [NABOKV-L] Chip Kidd on VN Covers ...

Sandy Klein sends Chip Kidd on VN Covers..."Kidd began his turn by reading excerpts from published letters in which VN excoriated publishers, editors, and their scuttling assistants with his reactions to their jacket and paperback cover submissions. Kidd went on to read VN’s remarks on other book covers. VN’s main points were, in so many words, “be biologically accurate”, “be textually accurate”, and, when inspiration or knowledge fails, use simple black type. I have to say that one publisher, Putnam, seemed to catch on. VN would have enjoyed the edgy covers Kidd designed for the Portuguese publisher Companhia Das Letras. Kidd showed images of them as they were meant to be seen by the prospective book buyer..The covers were witty, strongly graphic, in-your-face, often juxtaposed images causing us in the audience first to feel the neck snap of recognition and then to laugh.."*

JM: As a common Brazilian book buyer I confess that I find such enthussing excessive. Probably I lack the aforementioned sense of humor or miss the "edginess." In my opinion the designer often misses the point about the theme he chose to portray. For example, Ada's cover topmost item is an unidentified mansion house. Experts might place it either in Florida or somewhere in Russia: is that wise? Below the mansion one sees an enlarged section of a butterfly's head and slice of wing. There's more to Nabokov than butterflies, no?
The covers seldom, if ever, carry anything else besides two (sometimes one) images. Never a word. The title and author's name is only to be found in a transient "belly band" (in "Ada", including another image, now with clouds and lake) - and in the spine label.
His success in TOoL is more encompassing, perhaps this has not been possible for him in the more simple paperback editions. The covers of Lolita and Laughter in the Dark are also laudable. For many others he might have employed "simple black type."

Returning to the amusing theme of goblets:

Jerry Friedman:...Humbert says that when he met Annabel he was a faunlet in his own right. Like Jansy Mello, I've wondered why the "l" in "faunlet", and thought it was euphony as she suggests. Or maybe "faunet" would have looked too French?

JM: There are names like "Jane" and "Janet", or as "Lucie" and "Lucette", Bernard and Bernadette, also "Juanita" (one of the names VN considered for his novel about "nymphets") and "Lolita" (Dolores, Dolly, Lola, Lolita). The ending with "ita" in Spanish is a diminutive, such as "ette" in French. I cannot remember similar transformations for masculine names, such as John, Lucius, Juan. There are tender diminutives such as Willy or Teddy, though.
Would "fauns", as "males" and unlike "nymphs", consequently have deserved the added (hmmm!) "l" in order to distinguish them from those other feminine creatures?

[QUERY] Very often, wherever I read in the internet texts a reference to Dmitri Nabokov his name is followed by a blank space. Can someone explain what it means?

* Sandy Klein's addenda (still ) Excerpts

1.Christie’s 4 December auction of VN’s index cards/manuscript of The Original of Laura. On 5 May 2004, the well-known French auction house Tajan offered 104 lots from Dmitri Nabokov’s personal library of inscribed and lepidopterized presentation copies of his father’s works along with minor manuscript material and books about VN. Some of the books included annotations and corrections... I heard through the grapevine that the auction was a disaster and that nothing was sold... So here at Christie’s we have, quantitatively, a much more modest offering: one manuscript (very much in the public’s literary eye today) and five inscribed editions...And the 138 index cards? I ask myself, How often does a novel by a major literary figure come on the market? Extremely rarely. I mentally turn the cards over in my hands. This is terra incognita. This is at the very high end of the literary market. I see a shot into the stratosphere that will, like a cloud-seeding experiment, affect everything VN under it. So for now, unsatisfyingly, I decline to come to a conclusion. I’ll attend and see what happens and then reach for an understanding... Dmitri Nabokov has consigned the 138 index cards to the New York branch of Christie’s [...]

2. Looking Closely at Sebastian Knight: The first edition of VN’s first novel in English, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, is a bibliographic hybrid in ways I wasn’t fully aware of in the 1980s when I was pulling my bibliography together. Published by New Directions in 1941, TRLoSK, I have determined, was issued in anywhere from five to eight possible combinations of bindings, labels, and dust jackets... Back to bindings, labels, and dust jackets. They come in a triplet of pairs.

3. John Shade’s Word Golf: " From yesterday’s (31 August 2009) New York Times, Science Section, “After the Transistor, a Leap Into the Microcosm” by John Markoff, third paragraph, third sentence: “The leaking electrons make it more difficult to know when a transistor is in an on or off state, the information that makes electronic computing possible.” Have you ever seen five two letter words (here, “is in an on or”) used consecutively (and unconsciously, I presume) in one sentence in a piece of journalism? And even more startlingly, the five form, in their written order, a perfect “word golf” sequence, from “is” to “or”.As you certainly know, word golf was a hobby of John Shade...The five-word is-or sequence is obviously not the shortest possible, as word golf calls for. You could do it in two steps if you use the slightly uncommon word “os” as the intermediary. There are other possibilities. But the point here is that it was done by chance.

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