John Barnstead (Dalhousie University) contributes an article, "Two Notes on Pale Fire." The interconnection of Pale Fire with Nabokov's commentaries to Eugene Onegin has always been formulated in parodic terms. An examination of the Index to Nabokov's commentaries, however, shows that he used, albeit more discreetly, the same methods of aesthetically-motivated misdirection and pleonastic ostension in both. Further connection of Pale Fire with Pushkin is hinted at by a new extension of the note to line 91 of Pale Fire, which connects Kinbote/Charles the Beloved with Crown Prince Rudolph of Austro-Hungary.
Nicholas Bottomley's "Ultima Thule" is a screenplay adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's work of the same name. The story follows the mind space of a widower artist who attempts to cling on to the last remaining threads of his emptied life. He enlists the aid of an old friend who resides on an entirely different ethereal plain, hoping to capture his own life before it flits away.
Galina Glushanok (New York) publishes selections from the correspondence of the writer's wife, Vera Nabokov, and A. Goldenweiser (1890-1979), a lawyer and publisher living in New York. The letters are a part of The Goldenweiser Collection at the Bakhmeteff Archives of Russian and East European History and Culture at Columbia University. From over one hundred documents (mostly official and business letters), Glushanok selected twenty-one letters spanning a period from 1938 until 1970. During the 1950s, Goldenweiser helped the Nabokov family and many other European Jews to obtain the reparations from Germany. Not only Vera was compensated for her work in Berlin during the Nazi era, but her sister Elena Massalsky, her cousin Anna Feigin, and many other good friends of the Nabokovs (Elizaveta Gutman-Marinel and Vladimir Hessen among them) also received what they deserved due to Goldenweiser's timely assistance. For Vera Nabokov, getting the compensation was a matter of moral principle: as soon as she received it, the whole amount was donated to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Mrs. Nabokov, as always, appears in these letters as an exceptionally devoted wife and a selfless and generous individual. Goldenweiser, in his turn, was a long-standing admirer of Vladimir's fiction and occasionally mentions to Vera his absolute fascination with her husband's works.
Vyacheslav Desyatov's (The Altai State University) article, "Parasite in Paradise: Mayakovsky's 'The Bedbug' Under Nabokov's Magnifier", studies the echoes of Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky's futuristic play "The Bedbug" in his namesake's writings, such as Invitation to a Beheading, Lolita, and Look at the Harlequins!. Protagonists of both "The Bedbug" and Invitation to a Beheading walk away in their respective finales beyond the world of theatricals props Ð just to discover an existence of another kind of reality. The Russian version of Lolita contains an exact citation from Mayakovsky's satirical play Ð "a staggering parasite" (porazitel'nyi parazit). Nabokov inserts the Russian word klop ("bedbug") into the text of Look at the Harlequins! Connecting it to the image of the Leninist revolutionary Charlie Everett / Karl Vetrov. As Desyatov suggests, "The Bedbug" is one of the Soviet poet's works that most frequently attracted the professional entomologist in Nabokov.
Alexander Dolinin (University of Wisconsin-Madison) is the commentator of the only authorized Russian edition of The Gift, published in the fourth volume of The Collected Works of Vladimir Nabokov in five volumes (1999-2001). During the seven years after the appearance of this long-awaited Russian edition of the novel, professor Dolinin has accumulated many new illuminating notes to the text which he plans to post in the forthcoming issues of the NOJ / Ž†. In the current issue, Dolinin explicates the intricate story of Nabokov's attempts to publish the full text of the novel in pre-war Europe, updates the corpus of critical responses to the novel by Nabokov contemporaries, and offers some fresh contexts to our understanding of the semantics of the title of The Gift by appealing to the writings by Derzhavin, Pushkin, Khodasevich, James Joyce and Gleb Struve. Dolinin concludes his series of notes with a number of subtle comments deciphering obscure passages in the first chapter of Nabokov's novel.
Nina Khrushcheva's (The New School, New York) essay, "Death is But a Question of Style," aims to gain an understanding of Vladimir Nabokov's works that go beyond the printed word. Khrushcheva made a trip to Montreux, Switzerland, where the writer resided in the Montreux Palace hotel from 1962 until his death in 1977. "Death is But a Question of Style" is an imagined conversation with the bronze statue of Nabokov which was placed in the Palace lobby for his centennial. During this dialogue, Nabokov's authorial ghost revealed that his English-language novels were in essence a rewrite of nineteenth-century Russian literature. Focusing on individuality, not typicality, he brought the traditional Russian characters into "modernity" where the emphasis was not on personal misery or communal life, but on forging an individual "happy" destiny. Russia today faces a similar challenge, leaving behind its communist past in an attempt to integrate into a "Western" world dominated by capitalism and individual initiative.
Yuri Leving's (Dalhousie University) article "Decoding Delirium, or Who Will Help Chernyshevski?" focuses on one seemingly insignificant line in the delirium scene shortly before A.Ia.Chernyshevski's death in The Gift: "Boria might help Ð but then he might not." In the English translation the sentence is even less clear: "David might help Ð but then he might not." The main questions posed by the author of the article are: who is this Boria who never reappears in the text; why was he transformed into David; and how exactly can he help the dying hero? In The Gift David is mentioned only once Ð as the Biblical author of the psalms translated by N.G. Chernushevski, while the actual scene of delirium represents Nabokov's reshuffling of major motifs and quotations from various Davidian psalms. "Bore" is a paronomastic equivalent of the word "Creator" in Hebrew (the unknown book in Aramaic is conveniently mentioned in the delirium episode as well) and serves as a link between the divine Boria and David. As Leving suggests, both Boria and David are different interpretations of the same authorial figure: the God-Creator of the textual reality (or Nabokov himself, who is the only one capable of relieving the hero from his mundane suffering).
Oleg Lekmanov (The Moscow State University) offers in his article "Sergei Esenin and Isadora Duncan in Nabokov's Short Story 'Spring in Fialta'" a gallery of possible literary prototypes that Nabokov could employ in creating the heroine's environment in this 1936 short story. Nina's automobile accident, according to Lekmanov, may be related to Isadora Duncan's similar tragic death through a number of colorful details (her yellow scarf and ballerina-like walk, mentioned in Nabokov's story, are just few of them), as well as a number of intertextual allusions to Sergei Esenin's poetry carefully embedded in the texture of "Spring in Fialta." Lekmanov also reinforces the similarity between Nina's husband (the Hungarian writer named Ferdinand) and Joseph Conrad, the prosaic writer of Polish origin. In addition to these parallels, the author suggests that Ferdinand's ambiguous companion, Segur, bears a resemblance to the poet Georgi Ivanov, Nabokov's real life literary adversary and Esenin's satellite.
The purpose of Maya Minao's (Yamaguchi University, Japan) paper "In Search of a MailboxÑLetters in The Gift," is to reread The Gift by analyzing the letters scattered throughout the novel. First the author studies the main characteristics of letters in Nabokov's other works. Secondly she focuses on the correspondence between Fyodor and his mother. The next subject is Chernyshevski's letters. The last and main concern in this paper is Fyodor's long letter to his mother, which appears towards the end of the novel. Minao establishes the general context of the correspondence motif and clarifies its importance in the novel.
As Alexander Moudrov (Queens College) states in his "Nabokov's Invitation to Plato's Beheading," although Nabokov repeatedly downplayed the significance of the Platonic references in his works, one can read such novels as Invitation to a Beheading and The Gift as the writer's modernist responses to the philosopher's lasting intellectual influence. The points of contention were what both Nabokov and Plato could claim as their areas of expertise: metaphysics, art's relation to politics, and a more personal subject of death. Consequently, Nabokov never let Plato out of his sight, often turning his ideas into an object of satire. What was surprising, however, was that Nabokov's literary attacks on Plato occasionally turned into unintentional tributes to the philosopher.
Elizabeth M. Sheynzon (Northwestern University) presents an article entitled "Transposing Lolita: Virtual Emigration." The intricate world of Vladimir Nabokov's writings, full of cross-references, allusions, codes and riddles, is ostensibly self-contained and artificial. Yet it manages to transcend its insularity and continues to reveal its relevance to the critical concerns of our times. This essay reads Nabokov's Lolita in conjunction with a recent example of Nabokov's transcultural relevance, Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. In her Memoir in Books, as she defines the genre of her writing, Nafisi describes her experiences teaching American literature, first in a university setting and then Ð as censorship, dress codes, and other religiously motivated limitations become more and more severe Ð in a private seminar she holds in her Tehran home for a few female students. While they read and discuss quite a few books, Lolita becomes the top-billed title. Nabokov's novel is chosen because it goes "against the grain of all totalitarian perspectives." Lolita counters totalitarianism by literary means and not political ones. Nafisi's book puts in stark relief such issues in Lolita as foreignness, virtual and real emigration, gender relations, the individual versus the collective (or the mass), meta-discourses (with their imitations) versus unique narratives, and the universality of subjective and objective judgments. This analysis of Nabokov's relevance features Kant's moral, aesthetic, and political philosophy, Derrida's discussion of foreignness, and Lyotard's interpretation of otherness in order to bring to the fore the stakes of Nafisi's memoir.