John Bertram's (Los Angeles) note, “Lingerie, Lollipops, Lipsticks: Inventing the Perfect Lolita Cover,” analyzes the results of an artistic competition (which Bertram himself has announced and held) for the best cover of Nabokov’s novel, Lolita. A few selections out of over a hundred and fifty submissions have been awarded with monetary prizes. Bertram suggests that certain themes and recurrent images emerge in the public perception of this popular and controversial novel.
Mikhail Efimov's (Museum Park Monrepos, Vyborg) article, “Baratynsky as an Object and Subject of Literary Polemics (Nabokov, Khodasevich, and Adamovich)” studies the writings of the nineteenth-century poet, Baratynsky, and his influence on Nabokov. The article specifically considers Khodasevich’s special attitude toward Baratynsky, who was Pushkin’s contemporary.
As Leonid Klimov’s (Vladimir Nabokov Museum, St. Petersburg) publication brings, for the very first time, a glance at the part of the collection of paintings that belonged to Nabokov’s family and that were confiscated by Bolsheviks soon after the Revolution. Many of these valuable paintings are now in the Russian Art museums, including the State Hermitage.
Yuri Leving's (Dalhousie University) article, “Hide and Seek (On Possible Prototypes for the Artist Romanov in Nabokov’s The Gift),” explores an enigmatic character, Vsevolod Romanov, in Nabokov’s last Russian novel. The artist presents a peculiar case for two reasons: the descriptions of his paintings look tantalizingly palpable, but no plausible prototypes for these have been identified by scholarship so far. What is more, the compositional principles of Romanov’s paintings are strikingly reminiscent of Nabokov’s own devices, as articulated in the famous last sentence of Speak, Memory which refers to a puzzle (“Find what the sailor has hidden,” 310). The descriptions of Romanov’s personality and artistic development may contain a few remote references to the career of Nabokov’s fellow émigré, Pavel Tchelitchew. Romanov’s paintings, as described in the novel, also evoke the works of Henri Rousseau and Rene Magritte.
Savely Senderovich and Yelena Shvarts’ (Сornell University, Ithaca) article, “Santa-Morgana: Commentary to V. Nabokov’s Play ‘The Waltz Invention,’” examines Nabokov’s play as a pensive response to Nikolai Evreinov’s ideas about the theatrilization of life as well as his engagement with the folk theatre (balagan). It also examines the concept of grotesque introduced in the theory of Vsevolod Meyerkhold. The names of Berg and Waltz, the authors contend, belong to the real personae in the world of Russian theater of the early twentieth century.
Natalia Tolstaya's publication “Days gone by, Live!.. From the Correspondence between Elena Sikorski (née Nabokov) and Natalia Artemenko-Tolstaya” (edited by E. Belodubrovsky, N. Tolstaya, and M. Malikova) contains an interesting commentary of the writer’s sister to V. Nabokov’s writings. For many years, the two women engaged in a literary dialogue, both in person and by correspondence, and had a sincere affection for each other.
Grigori Utgof (Tallinn University) spoke with the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, about Nabokov, politics, freedom, and linguistic rendering. Can a leader of a constitutionally monolingual country be a passionate reader of a bilingual writer? The answer is “Yes.”
Emmy Waldman's (Yale University) article, “Who’s Speaking in Arcady: the Voices of Death, Dementia, and Art in Nabokov’s Pale Fire,” considers Kinbote’s (mis)construal in his Commentary of the Latin motto Et in Arcadia ego [Even in Arcady am I], a well-known art historical theme popularized by French painter Nicolas Poussin. The paper proposes as Nabokov’s source-text a 1955 essay by Erwin Panofsky, “Et in Arcadia Ego: Poussin and the Elegiac Tradition,” which traces the philological and pictorial evolution of the phrase through a cycle of seventeenth-century paintings and drawings. Taking this intertextual moment as a point of departure, Waldman’s article looks at the two mirroring references to the Arcadian trope in Nabokov’s own text, and asserts that while the first citation appears to express a conventional memento mori, its reprisal later in the novel admits a new shade of meaning: a penumbral hope in the possibility of life after death. It is suggested that Nabokov’s riffing on the Et in Arcadia ego tradition establishes shifting relations of identity – a common “I” – between the original poet, Shade, the crazed assassin, Gradus, and the literary-minded madman, Kinbote, all of whom may lay claim to the ego of the Latin epitaph. The paper examines Nabokov’s apparent transvaluation of madness as a quasi-artistic category and investigates the claim of art to transcend the tyranny of clockwork time through imaginative invention. The literary tagline from Shade’s poem, “not text but texture,” is applied to Nabokov’s aesthetic program, which privileges spatial over sequential thinking, and does violence to the conventions of a straight-forward, left-to-right reading so as to do justice to the contrapuntal orchestration of the total composition.