In a message dated 24/03/2006 13:35:14 GMT Standard Time, nabokv-l@UTK.EDU writes:

A reply for Anthony Stadlen: When time came to do posthumous translations of Volshebnik into sevaral languages, I felt duty-bound to follow Father's express instructions to use the title The Enchanter and its variants. I too was a little uncomfortable about the juxtaposition with his frequently stated view that a writer should, above all, be "an enchanter." But cannot one adapt the use of a word to different moments and different contexts? In the novella, Arthur (explicitly named only in a draft version) tries to enchant his prey -- or fantasizes that he is doing so -- in order to achieve his end, while a writer, for VN, should create an aura of aesthetic enchantment wherein his reader's first experience will be the famous tingle of the spine. DN

Dear Dmitri,

I am very grateful for your reply. Of course, you are right about the use of a word in different moments and different contexts. It occurs to me that, for example, Kierkegaard wrote his fictional "Seducer's Diary" but also wrote in his own, actual, diary: "Someone who could not seduce men cannot save them either." Actually, that's a rather different point.

You are especially right that Arthur is an enchanter only in fantasy: he is a hopeless failure as an enchanter. The title is as ironic as "A Dashing Fellow".
Incidentally, has the draft version of "Volshebnik" where Arthur is named now turned up, or are you relying on your father's recollection in, for instance, the afterword to "Lolita"?

Anthony Stadlen  

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