NABOKV-L post 0000101, Thu, 26 Aug 1993 11:10:00 -0700

The following message from John Lavagnino is a response to my
call for comments about NABOKV-L and about what net members are currently
working on. Such responses can help to improve NABOKV-L. Other comments?
Don Johnson, Editor

---------- Text of forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1993 23:46 EDT
From: John Lavagnino <LAV@BINAH.CC.BRANDEIS.EDU>
To: chtodel@humanitas.ucsbvm.bitnet

One problem I've seen on the net is that nobody knows when a topic is
dead: the effect is most often to discourage people from posting if they
don't read their e-mail for a few days and think everyone else has lost
interest. I'd at least avoid the equivalent of the notice British
periodicals used to publish in their letter columns to the effect that the
corresondence on a particular topic must cease.

The list seems to be working out well. I haven't been on any that have
had any literary discussion this extended, and I hope the topics you've
started going will give other people the spur to do the same. But the
notices of publications etc. are good too---the one thing the Nabokovian
ought to do better is to tell you about conferences before they actually
happen, and maybe on the net this will be possible.

I think you wrote before asking about what I was up to---I've been out
of town a lot this year and have neglected some of my mail in the
confusion. I'm writing my thesis on literary institutions in Nabokov's
work, which covers things like book reviewing, printing, publishing,
textual editing, annotation, literary history, genres, and even
versification. The principal focus is on Pale Fire, with some
discussion of The Gift and Eugene Onegin; there is not as much
bibliography and book history as might be expected, given the topic,
since I've tried to look at the depiction of these things in Nabokov's
fiction as a way into his thinking, rather than looking at how they
actually affected his career (though there is a bit of that all the
same). If you look at the depiction of literary institutions in
Nabokov's fiction, rather than at what he said about them in interviews
etc., you get a very different and much more complex picture of what he
thought art was: it's a lot more tied up with the historical context
than we are accustomed to hearing him say, and yet all this still
coexists with ideas of art's timelessness and connection to an eternal
order of things.

The talk I'm giving at the MLA in December is going into this, as is one
I gave in New York in April to the Society for Textual Scholarship. One
nice thing about working on Nabokov is that there are people who like
his work for nonprofessional reasons: the best questions at my talk in
April were posed by some musicologists who were at the conference to
talk about Rossini and Gershwin.