Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000054, Sun, 8 Aug 1993 21:46:56 -0700

Dear Nabokovians:
Nabokv-L is intended to serve a variety of purposes. One of these
is critical discourse. As most of you know, there are around fifty volumes
of Nabokov criticism and hundreds of articles. Some topics have been
discussed ad nauseum, while others have suffered relative neglect. The lesser
known novels and critical studies of them fall into this latter category.
Nabokov's first novel, the 1926 MARY (Mashenka) is a case in point. While
a few articles have been devoted to it, most critical discussions are to
be found embedded within book-length studies where they inevitably become
scumbled (to choose a good Nabokovian word) and lose their sharpness of
focus for the reader. MARY has been discussed in detail in at least four
books in the last four years, yet no reviewer has had the space (or
perhaps the inclination) to examine these treatments. Nor have the authors
of the books had much reaction to their interpretations of this first
novel. Nabokv-L now offers a forum for the authors (and other interested
parties) to exchange views on this seminal Nabokov work.
Our point of departure is John Burt Foster's 1993 book, _Nabokov's
Art of Memory and European Modernism_, which discusses MARY on pp. 52-62.
Professor Foster's interpretation of MARY is examined and queried by
Professor Galya Diment, also a comparativist specializing in European
modernism. Their discussion will follow. In addition to MARY itself,
subscribers may wish to take a look at the recent discussions of the novel
in volume one of Brian Boyd's Nabokov biography, in Leona Toker's _Nabokov:
The Mystery of Literary Structures_, and in Julian Connolly's _Nabokov's
Early Fiction_. All of the authors are subscribers to Nabokv-L, and all
are invited to contribute and to respond.
Any subscriber may offer her/his opinions to the authors and other
net members. I encourage your contributions. Your level of response
(albeit in the dead of summer) will determine whether the venture merits
further exploration.
D. Barton Johnson, Editor