NABOKV-L post 0004547, Mon, 8 Nov 1999 08:25:44 -0800

VN Bibliography: Boyd, "Nabokov's Pale Fire" (fwd)
Re: the used copy of Nabokov's Blues

It was an interesting surprise finding this comment re "Nabokov's Blues"
by D.K. Holm. It reflects a point Steve Coates and I made in our on-line
interview with Don Johnson-- that substantial numbers of persons, within
both scientific- and literary-related disciplines, don't realize how much
of a story there is behind Nabokov's scientific work. As we noted in the
interview, even as the authors, WE were surprised at how much there was to
tell. AND, we suspect that people will discover the richness of this
story little by little-- as the book "claws its way up" and gets people's
attention. If one suspects "no story", one doesn't look. A case in point
is that Brian Boyd, me, and even Dmitri Nabokov approached the American
Museum of Natural History in New York City several times in 1998 about the
relevance of some kind of "program" or "exposition" marking the Nabokov
Centenary there, where his work and relationship had been so seminal and
rich. There seemed to be no interest at the time (even no replies to our
queries, a real "affront")-- I think because no one realized the story
that was really there. Of course Natural History magazine (July / Aug
issue) picked up on it, but NH is substantially independent from the
museum and its then-editor was quite Nabokov literate. Now that people at
that great museum have seen the book (not to mention become aware of the
great press the book has been receiving overall [New Yorker magazine, Nov.
15, for instance...a magazine with quite a following in New York], I am
sensing among old colleagues and administrators at the AMNH a sigh of
"what a missed opportunity", or in the case of one very highly placed
person a literal "why wasn't this brought to my attention" etc. I am also
told, behind the scenes by one reviewer, that he feels there is even far
more to the story than we've been able to tell (of course there is!) and
not only plenty of room, therefore, for (1) Boyd and Pyle's 2000 Nabokov's
Butterflies (which expands the attention beyond "blues" and beyond our
concentration on the Latin American studies) but (2) yet another book
that is being rumored for 2000 that may do more with the connection of the
literature and the lepidoptery. I am trying to find out more about the
latter effort. Someone in the "know" about it suggested it tries to fill
a void left by Nabokov's Blues-- that there are many more interesting
aspects and anecdotes re the interconnections of the literature and the
science than we were able to recount in our 372 pp. (as I told him/her,
obviously there are because Steve C. and I have a box full of such things
that never got into the final version of our book). When I flush out more
information on this latter effort I'll try to get permission from the
"informers" to let people know about what may still be coming down the
pike. It may be that the author is still fishing for, or negotiating
with, a publisher.

Kurt Johnson

----- Original Message -----
From <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 1999 4:44 PM
Subject: Re: VN Bibliography: Boyd, "Nabokov's Pale Fire" (fwd)

> I was in Powell's book store in Portland, Oregon -- one of the biggest
> bookstores in the world -- Monday night, and to my surprise found a used
> copy of "Nabokov's Blues"! The book was sold to the store, which carries
> new and used books together on its shelves, by a local book reviewer who
> obviously didn't appreciate what she had. Naturally, I bought it, and at
> first glance it is a beautiful piece of work, a thorough and clearly
> written inspection of an aspect of Nabokoviana that many might think is
> either subsidiary or, worse, simply daunting. Not only that, but the
> physical book itself is well-produced, an increasingly more rare thing in
> modern publishing.
> Re: Brian Boyd and "Pale Fire." Some members who are unfamiliar with the
> five or six columns that New York Observer writer Ron Rosenbaum has
> on Boyd and his new book about "Pale Fire" can find them all at
> by doing an on-site search for either Rosenbaumn
> Nabokov. Rosenbaum is a interesting and dedicated Nabokovian, and often
> comments on high profile VN-related books and movies.
> D K Holm