NABOKV-L post 0002585, Thu, 27 Nov 1997 16:57:38 -0800

Re: Pasternak's "Lara" and KGB (fwd)
From: Dolinin <>

>>Nabokov --
>>who really never cared much for Pasternak either as a poet or a writer,
>>or, for that matter, as an anointed heir to Mayakovsky in the 1930s --

Nabokov's distaste for *Doctor Zhivago* (shared by most of the emigre
writers of the first wave including those who, like Odoevtseva, were not,
to put it mildly, among Nabokov's friends and literary allies) should not
overshadow his highly complex and ambiguous feelings toward Pasternak's
persona, early prose, and poetry. It seems that for Nabokov, Pasternak was
always a haunting, disturbing presence and his fluctuating, contradictory
views of Pasternak's poetry betray something not unlike the notorious
"anxiety of influence." Along with some jibes in newspaper reviews, there
is ample evidence of lifelong interest, respect and even enchantment.
In"Torpid Smoke," for example, the favorite books of the protagonist (a
precursor of Fyodor) include Pasternak's "Sestra moia zhizn'" together with
Sirin's *Zashchita Luzhina*. Discussing an anthology of contemporary
Russian poetry with James Laughlin, Nabokov wrote: "Yes, Pasternak is a
real permanent poet; <...> By far the best poets of recent times are
Pasternak and Khodasevich: a collection of Russian modern poems ought to be
based, I think, on the work of these two." Nabokov's own poems of the
1940's, as Adamovich was the first to notice, have numerous echoes of
Pasternak; see, for instance, his wonderful "K kn. S. M. Kachurinu" that
responds to (and quotes) Pasternak's "Volny."
At any rate, the issue has been too poorly studied to jump to any

Alexander Dolinin