(I'm trying to post this for the 2nd time, ----- this time
with a quoted passage from [Strong Opinions] )
Thank you... This is such a treat !
I didn't realize that [Bleak House] was a whole semester, and not
just a unit in a semester.
The Metamorphosis - A Study: Nabokov on Kafka (1989) Christopher Plummer
So it seems that Nabokov was charming and funny, in a way that's
much more subdued and subtle than as portrayed by Christopher Plummer.
I'd love to hear her (the former student's) impressions of
what aspects of VN's style or demeanor Plummer _did_ capture.
I wonder... Are there any anecdotes about VN
being rude or insulting to a slow or lazy student ?
( Racist remarks that white American ("liberal") professors
made to my face are among my most unforgettable memories. )
a passage from [Strong Opinions] --
>>> What is your relation to the translations of your books?
In the case of languages my wife and I know or can read — English,
Russian, French, and to a certain extent German and Italian — the system is
a strict checking of every sentence. In the case of Japanese or Turkish
versions, I try not to imagine the disasters that probably bespatter
every page. <<<
I probably mentioned this before, but OF particular interest to me
is VN 's attitude toward his translators. A passage in [Strong Opinions]
suggests that he might have been arrogant toward his Japanese or Chinese
But I tend to think that his "superior" persona was mostly an act.
-- the [Proud Russian] intellectual (role) that he was playing
because that was what the readers want to see.
Passages from Prof. Boyd's 2-volume biography indicated to me
that VN was quite patient with his European translators,
never abusive or insulting.
preferred pronouns: he, HenHanna, HH
On 9/25/20, Priscilla Meyer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The grandmother of one of my students sent him her memories of studying with
> Nabokov. She has graciously permitted me to post it (anonymously, "out of
> shyness"). Note particularly the last paragraph.
> To My Grandson:
> I am so pleased to hear you are reading Nabokov. I took a class with him in
> 1950, in the Spring of my sophomore year at Cornell. It was not a course on
> his own work or other Russian literature. It was titled: The Thematic Lines
> in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.
> He was of some renown then, but was not yet the towering figure he would
> become. He had written only two novels in English to date, The Real Life of
> Sebastian Knight which we knew quite well, and a dystopian novel called Bend
> Sinister which none of us had read at the time. I should expect that Ms.
> Meyer has had the privilege of reading some of his earlier works in the
> original Russian. I have since gone back and enjoyed many of them in English
> and French, but I doubt they read perfectly as intended.
> As a professor, he was quite aloof. I can see him now in my mind’s eye
> seeming rather eccentric, always moving about the room, pacing relentlessly.
> He was rarely at ease. Not a patient man, he took joy in improving the
> understanding his students possessed about literature, but was not always
> kind in his approach.
> His wife, Vera, sat in the front row for every class. It was rather unusual,
> but her presence seemed to calm him. At the precise moment a smile from
> Professor Nabokov could have warmed up the room, it was often his wife who
> would adjust her shoulders a half turn and offer a warm beam to the room as
> if to say her husband was doing his best.
> In class, Nabokov would rarely speak of his career. Once, however, in
> disciplining a student who had been unable to produce the required piece for
> the day and cited poor working conditions in his flat as an excuse, Nabakov
> explained to the young man that he wrote Sebastian Knight in the bathroom of
> his Paris apartment, using a bidet as a makeshift desk, so surely writing
> can take place under most any condition.
> I can say there was one student of whom Nabokov was rather fond. It was my
> friend Ruth, whom I had gone to grade school with and was taking this class
> as a Freshman at Cornell. Ruth was amongst the brightest in the class, but
> beyond her intelligence, she seemed to understand how displaced he felt, so
> far from home, she being the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants herself.
> I remember being somewhat jealous of the attention my friend received, but
> genius has a way of finding genius, and this was no exception. Four years
> later, my friend Ruth Bader got married and became Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
> Thirty-nine years after that, she was nominated to the United States Supreme
> Anyhow, I do hope you enjoy Pale Fire!
> All my love,
> Your Adoring Grandmother
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> Chercheurs Enchantes:
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> The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada:
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Contact the Editors: mailto:[log in to unmask],[log in to unmask],[log in to unmask]
Nabokov Studies: https://muse.jhu.edu/journal/257
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Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada: http://vnjapan.org/main/ada/index.html
The VN Bibliography Blog: http://vnbiblio.com/
Dieter Zimmer Website: http://www.d-e-zimmer.de/index.htm
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