Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023218, Wed, 8 Aug 2012 10:28:29 +0000

Re: VN & kindness
Those who choose to think ill of others, whether individuals or entire peoples, are rarely dissuaded from their opinions. And those who air unfounded malice do not really deserve an answer. But since the lack of an answer has in this case led to an even louder airing of the malice, let me put on record (once again, in many cases), in conveniently compact form, for those who do respect evidence, that Nabokov helped:
family members (sending money to his mother regularly in the emigration when he and his family had little, and from America in support of his nephew, whom his sister Olga neglected, and in support of Olga herself, despite his disapproval of her narcissism and irresponsibility);
relatives and friends (trying to secure their escape from Europe in the early stages of the war, or shortly after the war; sending money to them from America, when his own income was still meager; supporting them in Montreux in their last years in his own years of wealth);
writers (sending money to the Russian Literary Fund in the 1940s or gifts to Russian dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s; supporting the recognition of those he admired and felt were neglected, highly promising or, in the case of dissidents, endangered);
young scholars and scientists (providing them with copious information);
charitable institutions (such as the Society for Russian Jews, the NAACP, the Anti-Vivisection League);
those who worked around him, assistants, shop assistants, tea ladies, TV crews, the staff of the Montreux Palace hotel, and the staff he employed in his years of wealth;
children (“an extraordinarily kind person, kind instantly,” reported the child who apart from Dmitri saw him more often than others in his American years);
and yes, even animals, dogs, cats, even a mouse or mice (he saved a mouse from the servant in a home where he was a guest, when he saw she wanted to kill it, and freed it in the garden; each time she caught a mouse thereafter, she would bring it to him with a snort and he would again free it, or them, outside).
Brian Boyd

On 6/08/2012, at 1:40 PM, Carolyn Kunin wrote:


p.s. Some of you may recall that on one of VN's posthumous birthdays I asked if anyone on the list could come up with a single act of loving kindness performed during his lifetime by VN and the best someone could come up with was that he once fed a neighbor's cat. It is pathetic and if I thought about it I could probably come up with an even better word than that. How about 'disgusting'?

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