In Memoriam: Don Barton Johnson (1933-2020)

Submitted by dana_dragunoiu on Fri, 09/25/2020 - 05:38

by Shoko Miura, Nabokov Society of Japan

It was with much sadness and regret that I received the news of Don Johnson’s passing. I offer my most sincere condolences to his widow. 

It was my great fortune to have a sister living in Ventura, California, only 30 minutes’ ride from Don’s home in the hills of Santa Barbara. I visited him at his lovely home, built by a fine architect, for the first time more than twenty years ago. As every Nabokov scholar in the world knows, he was a great leader among the founders of the International Nabokov Society and generously created and monitored Nabokv-L from his own home. As an emeritus professor, he had his own office at the University of Santa Barbara, but he kindly invited me to his home and showed me his marvelous collection of Nabokov’s first editions. He and Sheila invited me and a few other Nabokovian visitors to a delightful lunch in his garden. 

Since then, Don has inspired me many times in helping the Vladimir Nabokov Society of Japan to grow. When I told him about our society, I remember he was very pleased that we had both Russian and American literature scholars and that the collaboration was working well. It was unfortunate that his illness prevented us from welcoming him to Japan. He was a gentle man and a superb, dedicated scholar. I miss him more than I can say.