Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000014, Thu, 22 Apr 1993 11:31:44 -0700

I have been out for town. In honor ofmy return, the university computer
suffered some problems. Hence the lack of activity on the net. I pass on
the following news:

1) Charles Nicol adds a note to the item about the Library of Congress
Nabokov archive which is at the moment closed to prospective users.
Attached to the VN archive, there is a box of correspondence from Zinaida
Shchakovskaya, a friend of VN during the 30's and author of a Russian
booklet about him (V poiskax Nabokova). Since this material was not
deposited by the Nabokovs, it may be available. Like Charles Nicol, I
looked at this material a couple of years ago. While interesting from a
biographical point of view, it offers nothing much on purely literary matters.

2) On the more frivolous side (although not, I'm sure, to the
participants), there is a law suit underway in London. Andrew Field is
suing David Sexton over the latter's remarks about Field in a SUNDAY
TELEGRAPH review of Boyd's VN biography. I have not seen the review in
question. Have any of you?

3) More on the British press. Zoran Kuzmanovich sends me Angela Lambert's
(ostensible) review of Boyd's AMERICAN YEARS. THE INDEPENDENT (Monday 13
Jan. 1992?), p. 17. Lambert, the author of a book on the British
aristocracy), devotes most of her essay to assaulting Nabokov's character
(political reactionary; sexist, and God knows...). Part of her remarks are
based on an essay by a former VN student's article: Elizabeth Welt Trahan
in THE ANTIOCH REVIEW (Spring, 1985).

4) I would very much like to encourage submissions for the Net from
subscribers. Could you perhaps send me brief statements of what you are
working on or are interested in? Topics for discussion? How many of you
are teaching Nabokov courses? Or Nabokov books as parts of courses?
Dissertations in progress?

5) As a topic for discussion I would appreciate responses on the following
topic. There is a long-standing dispute over whether VN is properly viewed
as a souless, stylistic virtuoso or a closet humanist. (I am putting this
very crudely, but you all know the arguments. It is my impression that the
metaphysicalist (as opposed to the meta-literary) interpretation has pretty
well swamped the field. Some of my colleagues maintain that the "other
worldly" view still requires ardent promotion. What is your reaction to
this? Personally, I take the view that while the metaphysicians are
basically right, VN's philosophical underpinnings in fact add very little
to his literary stature, i.e, you needn't be profound, moral, virtuous or
whatever to be a literary genius. His writings would be of the same
brilliance regardless of his metaphysics. RESPONSES, PLEASE.

Regards to all. D. Barton Johnson