NABOKV-L post 0000585, Thu, 11 May 1995 12:21:55 -0700

Alexander Luxemburg & VN Studies
Among those attending the recent VN conference at Texas Tech was a
Russian Nabokov specialist whose work was new at least to me. In spite of
the existence of the Nabokov Foundation in St. Petersburg American
familiarity with Russian Nabokov scholarship has been pretty much catch as
catch can--especially for work outside of Petersburg and Moscow. Alexander
Luxemburg, a Professor of Literature at Rostov State University in
Rostov-na-Donu, is currently an exchange scholar at SUNY Buffalo, but will
be returning to Rostov in June.
He and his colleague Galina Rakhimkulova are the authors of a
yet to be published book entitled _Magister igry Vivian Van Bok: igra slov
v proze Vladimir Nabokov v svete teorii kalambura_ [A Master of the Game:
Word Play in Nabokov's Prose in the light of a Theory of Puns]. An article
describing the book's basic ideas has appeared in _Poisk smysla: sbornik
statei uchastnikov mezhdunarodnoi nauchnoi conferentsii "Russkaya kultura
i mir_ (Nizhnii Novgorod, 1994). The article is entitled "Igrovoe nachalo
v proze Vladimir Nabokova" [Word Play as a Basic Element in Nabokov's
Prose], pp.157-168. The authors examine both Nabokov's Russian and English
prose. (Incidentally, this volume includes another item of
interest to the Nabokov bibliographer: N.V. Zhivolupova, "Problema
svobody v ispovedi antigeroya: Ot Dostoevskogo k literature XX veka
[Zamyatin, Nabokov, Ven. Erofeev, Limonov]," pp. 180-208.)
Professor Luxemburg has also published a miniature Russian edition
of Nabokov's _Laughter in the Dark_, i.e., not of Nabokov's original 1932
_Kamera obskura_, but a translation into Russian of the radically revised
American version of 1938 thus integrating the Russian and English texts.
The volume _Smex v temnote_ is accompanied by an essay by Professor
Luxemburg entitled "Belyi motylek i ognennaya strast'" [White Moth and
Fiery Passion] in which he comments on the two texts. The volume, with
illustrations by M.V. Ordynskaya, is published by MP "Kniga,"
Rostov-na-Donu, 1994--ISBNS-86692-014-x.
Professor Luxemburg provides the following abstract of his
conference talk which dealt with his version of _Laughter in the Dark_:

Alexander Luxemburg
Rostov State University, Russia

A New Version of a well-known Nabokovian Text: _Laughter in the Dark_
Re-shaped in Russian

It is well known to all Nabokov scholars that his Russian novel "Kamera
Obskura" (publ. 1932) differs in many significant respects from its
English version "Laughter in the Dark" (publ. 1938) No other version of
Nabokovian text has been so substantially changed as this one. Naturally
"Kamera Obscura" and "Laughter in the Dark" should not be viewed as
separate novels, but they are, as Field has stated in 1967 "fraternal
twins". The differences between them have been thoroughly analized by J.
Grayson in "Nabokov Translated". The most striking of these differences
are the following ones: 1) The names of the characters are not the same in
the two versions. Dretschmar became Albert Albinus, Magda became Margot,
and Robert Gorn was transformed into into Axel Rex. 2) The protagonist's
new name may be associated with the idea of whiteness and expresses well
his naivete and his moral blindness. He also lets the author stress the
white-black contrast pattern and to identify the cinematographic imagery.
3) Axel Rex's co-director's role has been emphasized. 4) Chapter 1 has
been radically re-written by the author who starts the English version not
with Gorn (Rex), but with Albinus, which is much more logical. Besides,
the new opening paragraphs serve as a short summary of the text and stress
the author's full command of the events. 5) Chapters 28 and 29 of
"Laughter in the Dark" introduce the writer Udo Conrad (instead of
Hegelkrautz), whose comments on literature and the writer's role reflect
Nabokov's own position. 6) But what may be regarded as the most essential
characteristic of the English version is its greater stylistic subtlty.
Nabokov manages to realize here the specific traits of his play and game
stylistics which have been definitely underdeveloped in the novel's
Russian version. It seemed to me that to reconstruct "Laughter in the
Dark" in Russian it might be a very promosing task. I had no doubt that
the Russian readership should not be spared the privilege of knowing the
other (and I think better) version of Nabokov's widely read novels but it
was essential to reshape it in Russian in such a way that it might be
perceived as an authentic Nabokovian one. This translation is now
available (Nabokov _Smekh v temnote_ /perevod s angliyskogo podgotovka
teksta i poslesloviye A.M. Luxemburgo Rostov-na-Donu: MP Kniga, 1994) I
must specify that the term "translation" is not fully adequate for
describing the method of reshaping. Both variants have been compared and
in most cases the Russian text of the first one has served as the basic
one. Most of Nabokovian alterations have been introduced from the English
version. Some have been neglected because they must have been motivated
by syntaxical or lexical differences between English and Russian. The
analysis of the Russian and English "Lolita" helped me to effect this
reshaping. Special attention has been paid to preserve the peculiarities
of the Nabokovian punctuation which is in his Russian texts somewhat
different from his English ones. The most difficult aspect of this work
consisted in retaining heavy cases of wordplay which appeared in the
English version. I am positive that it is not contrary to the Nabokovian
practice to create versions of versions of his texts.