Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000042, Mon, 26 Jul 1993 13:19:56 -0700

Re: VN at Koktebel: 1993 (fwd)
NABOKOVIANS: Professor Galya Diment (U. of Washington) was the only
American Nabokov specialist to attend the First World Congress on Russian
Literature held last month at Koktebel. Galya supplied Nabokv-L with both
the list of Nabokov papers and the report in $Literaturnaya gazeta$ that
ran on Nabokv-L a day or so ago. The message below, plus an addendum
which will immediately follow, are Galya's remarks on the conference. By
way of background I might add that Koktebel is a popular vacation area for
many Russians and one with a special mystique. Galya will be glad to
furnish further information on the Nabokov papers to individual
subscribers (or to the net). Her address is "galya@u.washington.edu".
Don Johnson

---------- Text of forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 1993 20:04:27 -0700 (PDT)
From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L%UCSBVM.BITNET@uwavm.u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: VN at Koktebel: 1993

Congress in Koktebel'

Koktebel' is about two hours away from Gaspra (which is very near Yalta)
where Nabokov spent his time prior to leaving for England in 1919. I went
to Gaspra but the place is so changed and made ugly with shoddy
Brezhnev-era buildings that it was almost too painful to be there. I used
to think that Crimea where I spent almost every summer as a child
and later on as a young person would probably never change and remain
peaceful and beautiful but my visit was a total shock. I remembered, for
example, nice sandy beaches in Koktebel' where I spent several summers on
a row prior to my emigration in 1975 but when I came there this time
instead of sand I saw sizable rocks. I thought at first that my
memory must have betrayed me but then found out that the sand from the
beaches had been carted off to use in construction projects in and around
Koktebel and rocks were brought in instead. The old Crimea of Nabokov's
and even the not-so-old Crimea of my own youth is no more, and that is very
sad, indeed.
The Congress itself was a very ambitious affair and the program reminded
one of a typical menu in a Russian restaurant. More than a half of the
items listed there were simply not available. But it was not really the
fault of the organizers as much as the slowness and unreliability of
domestic mail. The programs had to be printed before all the replies from
those invited were received since it often takes months for mail to travel
there. But the guy from Lit. gazeta should have obviously known better
than to trust the program. Sergei Davydov may be quite amused to find out
that the correspondent from that paper saw him engage in lively discussion
on the Nabokov panel. His eyesight must have been much sharper than mine.
I was, in fact, the only American representative on that
The title of the panel was somewhat ridiculous but no one really addressed
him/herself to that highly artificial issue. I was very impressed with the
woman who did a paper on Nabokov and Bely and also liked Katsis' talk on
Onegin. If anyone wants more details about the talks I'll be happy to
provide them.
I was however stunned to find out that people there are still working "in
the dark" when it comes to recent publications abroad. I was told that
Brian Boyd's second volume is not yet available anywhere in Moscow, and
neither is Vladimir Alexandrov's "Nabokov's Otherworld." They still do not
know, for most part, whether they are saying something new or re-inventing
the wheel. If we can come up with some sort of safe repositories of books
in Moscow and St. Petersburg it will be a great idea for people to send
their books there. I was told, for example, that Lenin's Library (whatever
it's called now) has only one copy of Brian Boyd's Russian Years or Don
Johnson's Worlds in Regression. To say nothing of the articles which
appear here and which most of them simply do not see at all. These were
mostly Nabokov people from Moscow (they also did not say anything about
the April conference in Petersburg, so I assume they had not participated
in it) and I don't know if the situation in "the other capital" is any