Talk:Vladimir Nabokov
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Talk:Vladimir Nabokov

Death of father? Synaestheisa

Was his father not shot by anarchists (not monarchists)? I do not recall whether Nabokov discusses his and his family's synaesthesia in Strong Opinions but that book is not a memoir as stated in the article. He does indeed talk about synaesthesia in his only autobiographical book, Speak, Memory.

Re: the issue of the synathesia, I added a citation to Brian Boyd and an article I found online by Patrick Martin. Fairwin99 (talk) 07:14, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Nabokov's influences and his literary legacy

It would be good to have a short section on these topics. Although he was always adamant that his work was unique, totally orginal etc. strong claims can be made regarding the influence of certain writers. These include, I believe: Flaubert, Joyce and Kafka, with the last two having major stylistic influence on, in my view, Bend Sinister and Lolita. More obvious, perhaps, are the writers that he has influenced. These include, to my limited knowledge: John Updike, Martin Amis, John Banville, Zadie Smith (perhaps; so far) and undoubtedly others. Someone better informed than I needs to come along and sprinkle a few concise, accurate comments into this solid article.

Just a note, that the bibliography is missing The Enchanter, and The Original of Laura (unpublished). There could be more, that's just from memory and a quick scan. Sorry I'm not just fixing it myself, very tired.

This entry should be disambiguated as there are at least two famous persons of that name (Vladimir Vladimirovitch Nabokov the author, and his father Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov, the politician). Unfortunately I am not sure how to do it without messing up things/links. Would anybody please help?

A reasonable way to do it would be to make Nabokov a disambiguation page with links to Vladimir V. Nabokov and Vladimir D. Nabokov as separate entries, then remove the redirect from Nabokov and make the existing Vladimir Nabokov link a redirect to the appropriate page... I'll try it and accept all the blame (and fame).

A disambiguation page would inconvenience 99% of the people who got to it. Why not just add a note and a link at the bottom of this article about the world famous author, critic, and lepidopterist that will send the reader to an article about his less well known father? Indeed, why not write an article about his father first? And then just link it from the text of this article. A disambiguation page is overkill. Ortolan88
I don't totally agree but being totally new to resource I will, of course, accept your advice and write something along these lines the next days.
And, what's more, I don't know how to handle russian names. A russian name should properly have a patronym in it e.g. "Vladimir Nabokov" is not quite correct without the "Vladimirovich" (or whatever). Is there a policy, rule etc. for this? Kosebamse
For authors at least, there is a clear optimum solution: Use the name under which they published, verbatim - even if it's a pseudonym (e.g. Mark Twain.) Alternate/expanded full names should be mentioned after the common name in the first paragraph of the article. Mkweise 21:47 Jan 26, 2003 (UTC)
I personally agree, but in fact the convention is to use the best-known name for the article title Mark Twain, but to start the article with the real name and then give the pseudonym. Odd, I think, but I just added a rule noting this to the Resource: Manual of Style yesterday, since that is what has traditionally been done since well before I got here. It's usually better to stay with what exists that to do something that requires a lot of changes. Please join in the discussion at the Manual of Style talk page, though. I'm glad there's another person interested. There are a few of us, but always room for one more. Ortolan88
Well, it's a question of choosing between absolutism and relativism :=). In this case, I think relativism (pardon the pun) wins the day. No one who has heard of the father will not have heard of the son; no one who not heard of the father will be looking for his page (still nonexistent). We can always add a disambiguation page later if anyone complains. (In that case, I think your suggestion of making it Nabokov is correct.) In the meantime, the policy on foreign names is in Resource: Naming conventions (anglicization) and there's also a current discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Manual of Style. And, welcome to the Wikipedia. You'll find lots of discussions like this all the time. Your knowledge and interest will be welcome (as will your politeness). Ortolan88

I know that Nabokov used the anagram Vivian Darkbloom somewhere, but I have no idea where. It sounds like a really nifty factoid, but I don't know anything else about it. Can someone confirm/deny this and, if it's for real, include it in the article? Thanks! grendel|khan 04:56, 2004 Jul 6 (UTC)

Vivian Darkbloom is a character in Lolita. And yes, her name is an anagram for Vladimir Nabokov. I think I heard she pops up in another work as well (possibly Ada).Bds yahoo 04:21, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, Vivian Darkbloom appears as the author of the appendix to Ada (in the versions of the novel that include it). Actually he's used plenty of different anagrams for his name, like Baron Klim Avidov (Ada), Adam von Librikov (Transparent Things), and others. --Shibboleth 01:10, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
If you or someone else has a full reckoning of such anagrams, it would make an interesting addition to the article. (I know nothing other than what I wrote in the above comment, along with the name 'Vivian Bloodmark'.) grendel|khan 08:52, 2004 Nov 20 (UTC)
Don't forget the "Dutch painter" van Bock from Strong Opinions.Anville 14:45, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Hmm...shouldn't we have a disambiguation notice for his pops up top? Something like This article is about the author Vladimir Nabokov. For his father, the politician, see Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov. ? john k 12:59, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Done. grendel|khan 08:52, 2004 Nov 20 (UTC)


Anyone in the US willing to contact Nikki Smith at Smith-Skolnik Literary Management to see wheter they could release a "low-res photo for web use" under GFDL or in the public domain, so we can improve the article? This is the right place to look, but they don't seem to have an email address. There are several snail mail addresses on the web and I have been given another one (which is not to be found on the web)... If someone wants to write a letter, leave me a note. --Glimz 18:07, Sep 10, 2004 (UTC)


Mention of Carrousel seems to have been removed in this edit. Was this just a mistake, or was it removed as a suspected hoax? It's most certainly not a hoax. Of course I can't simply prove to you that I have a copy in front of me now, but you can see a copy of the second edition here. (Yes, there were actually two editions; I have a copy of the first. And every copy I've heard of is numbered [!] "HC", so neither edition was "limited", although both were small.) Googling for "nabokov carrousel" may bring more evidence. -- Hoary 06:50, 2005 Mar 13 (UTC)

  • That was my edit, and it looks like it was an error on my part. Feel free to restore as needed. By the way, thanks for all the good edits you've made on this and the other Nabokov related pages. --Arcadian 21:47, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
    • Spoken like a . . . um, a gentleperson. As for the other edits, I'm glad to read that they went down well. Incidentally, I think we're soon going to run into problems of capitalization. Curiously, Manual of Style (titles) says nothing explicit about them, but its examples suggest to me that, for example, "The Vane Sisters" (with capital "S") is the way to go. Perhaps it would be better to sort this out before writing more articles for what are now red links within, for example, The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov; as it is, these links differ from those within Nine Stories. (NB I've no axe to grind here; actually I prefer the minimal use of capitals.) -- Hoary 01:44, 2005 Mar 14 (UTC) ...... PS I created an article for Carrousel, too. And now I'm off, to attend to the (very urgent) demands of the "real world". -- Hoary 02:48, 2005 Mar 14 (UTC) .... PPS the article is now here. -- Hoary 07:54, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

And yet more books

Using Michael Juliar's Vladimir Nabokov: A Descriptive Bibliography and his 1991 "Updates" to this, I've added more books. Note that the contents of the two "Fialta" books really are different. gives a very simplified list of works. Juliar's 1991 "Updates" list(s) three posthumous (and perhaps unauthorized) Soviet books (A58, A60 and A61) that each contain material not previously published in book form. These deserve to be added to the article, but I don't have enough energy. Moreover, I'm not confident about inputting Cyrillic, and — contravening the spirit of Wikipedia, I know — I'm not going to input stuff that I presume (or merely hope) will be checked by others. Also, I think I remember reading that the more or less authorized Soviet/Russian publications continued after 1991. -- Hoary 11:32, 2005 Mar 15 (UTC)

Horst Tappe's photo of Nabokov

This version of the article had the photo shown here, with the (boilerplate) comment that

This is a copyrighted promotional photo with a known source. It is believed that the copyright holder has granted permission for use in works such as resource or, in the alternative, it may be used under the fair use provision of United States copyright law.

The photographer (whose name wasn't mentioned anywhere) was Horst Tappe. No evidence was given that Tappe (specified as copyright holder as well as photographer in Vladimir Nabokov: A Pictorial Biography) had authorized its use here, or, for that matter, that it was a promotional photo. (Offhand I don't know what it was for; I'd guess for one of the various magazine interviews with VN.) So I've replaced it with the older image. This was taken in 1936, and there's no mention of copyright in the "pictorial biography" (which doesn't mean that it's not copyrighted). -- Hoary 02:49, 2005 Apr 16 (UTC)

If you are discussing the picture that used to be at the top of the page (near the first paragraph) then it appears to have been deleted again. I removed the reference to it this evening as it seemed to be pointing to a broken link. I guess another one needs to be found.
Matthew king 15:42, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

Copyright of Nabokov's works

Hoary: What's up with that copyright warning? Are you a lawyer entitled to decide what is a violation and what is not? If you feel you are, why link to that site at all? Just FYU, the Moshkow site exists since 1994 and is the most respected Russian online library. Is there a lawsuit related to Nabokov's material on that site? If there's none, your "warning" is just your personal opinion. resource is not a place for opinions, let alone legal opinions. Trapolator 04:43, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

"Cryptomnesia" factoid

The article stated:

Recent scholarship has uncovered the fact that Nabokov may have had cryptomnesia (a form of unintentional or unconscious plagiarism) while he was composing his most famous novel, Lolita. There is a German short story also entitled "Lolita" about an older man obsessed with a young girl that was published in 1916. Nabokov lived in the same section of Berlin, Germany as the author, Heinz von Lichberg, and could be familiar with the author's work, which was widely available at that time in Germany. More information regarding this recent controversy can be found here and here. It is still worth mentioning that Nabokov did not know German, so the influence may have not taken place after all.

It is a fact that you, dear reader, may have six fingers on your left hand. (Some people do. For all I know, you're one of them.) Do you actually have six fingers on your left hand? I dunno. And until this "recent scholarship" (actually a single book) has been backed up by e.g. appropriate revisions in a new edition of Boyd's The Russian Years, I submit that this allegation should be treated as interesting speculation, no more. So I'm about to delete it. -- Hoary 06:46, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

I beg to differ with both of you. It is a fact that some people have 6 fingers in their left hand. It is not a fact that Person A may be one of them. If it were established that person A does have 6 fingers on their left hand, then it is a fact that this is so. Until then, it is speculation, rumour, belief, theory, hypothesis or whatever. I have made the appropriate change to the article and also to the cryptomnesia article. Cheers. JackofOz 11:12, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

I re-added the cryptomnesia claim with some modifications because it certainly warrants mentioning -- it's still brand new literary news (from 2004), so give it time to develop. Someone added the quip to the original info: "It is still worth mentioning that Nabokov did not know German, so the influence may have not taken place after all." I just want to know: how could Nabokov live in Germany (in Berlin nonetheless, the same city as the author of the 1916 German short-story "Lolita") from 1923 until 1937 and not learn any German? The paragraph should stay here because this news has been spread around within many mainstream news organizations (including The Times Literary Supplement, NPR, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, among many others) and thus should receive our attention here in the article.

This is from the TLS's wesite: "Lolita 23 Jul 2004 - Earlier this year, admirers of Vladimir Nabokov and scholars of modern literature were startled by the revelation that the Lolita of Nabokov's great novel was not the first fictional nymphet of that name to have enchanted an older lover: her namesake had appeared in an eighteen-page tale, also called "Lolita", by the obscure German author Heinz von Lichberg, published in 1916. (See the TLS, April 2, and correspondence that followed.) We now publish, for the first time in English, von Lichberg's story, translated by Carolyn Kunin." -- 08:37, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

I've rewritten the paragraph so that it makes about the same points as it did before, but mostly confines itself to saying "A said B about C."
It is obviously not a fact that Nabokov read the earlier story and experienced cryptomnesia.
It obviously is a fact that a man named Michael Marr published a book that discusses this possibility.
That the book, and thus Marr's speculation, is reasonably important is shown by whichever editor provided three references to mainstream news sources that ran stories about Marr's book; two of those stories use the word cryptomnesia. Dpbsmith (talk) 11:58, 11 February 2006 (UTC)
P. S. Two points.
First, Cryptomnesia means "hidden memories" in general; not "unconscious plagiarism."
Second, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer story, Marr is at great pains to say this is not a case of plagiarism, unconscious or otherwise. "Stealing ideas" is not plagiarism. "The Seven Per Cent Solution" is not a plagiarism of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. It is of course certainly embarrassing for Nabokov to have used not only the same situation but the same name. But "unoriginal" is not the same as "plagiarism" Dpbsmith (talk) 12:18, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

The following is copied/pasted from the Lolita page, and kept here as a record -- April 16th, 2006

Heinz von Eschwege's "Lolita"

German academic Michael Marr's book The Two Lolitas (ISBN 1844670384) describes his recent discovery of a 1916 German short story titled "Lolita" about a middle-aged man traveling abroad who takes a room as a lodger and instantly becomes obsessed with the young pre-teen girl (also named Lolita) who lives in the same house. Marr has speculated that Nabokov may have had cryptomnesia (a "hidden memory" of the story that Nabokov was unaware of) while he was composing Lolita during the 1950s. Marr says that until 1937 Nabokov lived in the same section of Berlin as the author, Heinz von Eschwege (nom de plume: Heinz von Lichberg), and was most likely familiar with his work, which was widely available in Germany during Nabokov's time there. [1], [2]. The Philadelphia Inquirer says [3] that, according to Marr, the word "plagiarism" does not apply and quotes him as saying: "Literature has always been a huge crucible in which familiar themes are continually recast...Nothing of what we admire in Lolita is already to be found in the tale; the former is in no way deducible from the latter." -- 02:19, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

In Nabokov's defence, he had no knowledge of German at that time living in Berlin (indeed, he deliberately avoided German to keep his emigre Russian "pure"), and had little even up to his death. Similar claims are made for the "Kafkaesque" quality of Nabokov's early stories - however, he'd only read Kafka in translation once arriving in America.

Interesting info, but identical paragraphs have been added to the main Nabokov page and the novel page for Lolita. Isn't that a bit of a waste of space? I suggest cutting it from the main page and just keeping it on the novel page, where it's more relevant. Unless anyone objects, I'll do that in a couple of days. Dybryd 21:51, 14 July 2006 (UTC)


The IPA pronunciation should reflect vowel reduction. See: "Unstressed vowels" in

Is [vla'dimir na'b?k?f] the correct pronunciation? JackofOz said I got the stress placements wrong, but in that case they're also wrong in the pseudo-English "vlah-DEE-meer nah-BAWK-awf". Remember that in IPA the stress mark applies to the following syllable. Any other problems? --Keenan Pepper 16:31, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

A thousand pardons if my revert was a foolish and inconsiderate action. I must learn more about IPA conventions. Is the stress mark meant to immediately precede the relevant syllable, or the relevant vowel? The outcome here is that the stress marks seem to come right after the initial 'a' in both words, and are dissociated from the 'i' in Vladimir and the 'o' in Nabokov. To me, it really does look like it's saying VLAD-imir NAB-okov, which is how a lot of people incorrectly pronounce his name. JackofOz 20:28, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
In IPA, stress marks go before the syllable to which they apply, so "VLADimir NABokov" would be ['vladimir 'nab?k?f]. --Keenan Pepper 00:30, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I accept that. One more query, though. The first "o" is stressed but the second should not be. The IPA shows them as being pronounced the same. JackofOz 01:03, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
I think the vowel quality is the same, even though the stress is different. English vowels tend to have different stressed and unstressed versions (allophones?), but many other languages don't. I'm not sure though, and as I said I don't speak Russian, so feel free to change it. --Keenan Pepper 01:51, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
I speak Russian but I know nothing of IPA. We need somebody who's confident with both. And the vowel quality is quite different, btw. Unstressed "o"s in Russian are like schwas, or like "a", depending on the context. JackofOz 02:08, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Oh, well in that case should it be something like [vla'dimir na'b?k?f]? Just goes to show how useless these pseudo-English pronunciation guides are: "nah-BAWK-awf" suggests the last two vowels are the same. --Keenan Pepper 03:37, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
That looks OK to me. Cheers. JackofOz 04:40, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
I thought it was nah-buh-Kawv
No, that's how some people incorrectly pronounce it. The stress really should be on the second syllable bok. JackofOz 04:38, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Nabokov himself said, in Strong Opinions, that his first name rhymed with "redeemer" and that neither the British "NAB-oh-koff" nor the New England "Nah-BOH-kov" "offended my ear". Fumblebruschi (talk) 22:18, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
How helpful is putting the IPA pronunciation here? All you really need to know is that the first name rhymes with redeemer and the stress in the surname is on the second syllable (with the o pronounced as in knickerbocker) For those of us - i.e. most not familiar with IPA surely this would explain the matter most efficiently. (talk) 10:41, 25 February 2008 (UTC)
From "Strong Opinions": 'In a very pretty little poem, Mr. Neugeboren seems to rhyme, somewhat surpisingly, "Nabokov" and "love." I would suggest "talk of" of "balk of" as more closely conforming to the stressed middle vowel of that awkward name ("Nabawkof"). I once composed the following rhyme for my students: The querulous gawk of/A heron at night/Prompts Nabokov/To write' (talk) 06:52, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

overly positive tone?

I'm a little concerned that some of Cmulrooney's recent edits make the page seem a bit "fannish." Critical assessment of the work should be either the general consensus or quoted directly from significant critics, not the judgement of the writer. Is it really the critical consensus that Nabokov's Onegin is a "joyous, bitter, modern clarity of attack"? It's also useful to know that N. taught Ulysses by the map in preference to by the usual method of history, rather than simply by the map full stop. Can some of these edits be moderated a bit, rather than simply reverted? Dybryd 08:32, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

His edits are awful -- poorly written, and as Dybryd notes, "fannish." I reversed them. Note that he also removed the only criticism of Nabakov found in this article, the quote by Danilo Kis. Griot 15:44, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Ahem! Nabokov and Ki?, so spelled.
His edits to Carrousel are odd too. -- Hoary 22:07, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

"White Russian"?

Does N. really belong in the "White Russian" category? A monarchist killed his dad! Dybryd 18:19, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Nabokovs father certainly was not a "White Russian" - he was a liberal, supported the February revoution which made na end to monarchy in Russia and was involved in the Kerensky Provisional government. --Georgius (talk) 18:01, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

As for Nabokov himself, he left Russia very young without engaging in the civil war following the October revolution. --Georgius (talk) 09:28, 23 March 2009 (UTC)


When first reading this page I was a bit surprised to see that there was so little on N.'s family besides his father's murder. I think a full bio including childhood and family would be a good idea. However, just jamming in a bit about Sergei and the gay uncles in the absence of anything else seems kind of weird: why two uncles and not a word about his mom? Does somebody want to incorporate the new Sergei material in a proper "Family and Early Life" section? Dybryd 03:07, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Regarding his supposed "homophobia"...well, of course he was in a way. But so narrowly ideological a word doesn't do justice to the sophistication of his treatment of Kinbote, his uncle in Speak, Memory, and others. I say cut it. Dybryd 03:18, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

The homophobia idea comes from this article. I think it's proposterous. I challenge anybody to cite a passage in one of Nabokov's books that is homophobic, and until somebody can cite the passage, I'm striking the homophobia paragraph out. His brother Sergei didn't figure prominently in this life and probably doesn't deserve mentioning in this article. Moreover, I recall somewhere Nabokov saying that his artistic sensibility was gay. I'm trying to find where that was. Griot 03:40, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Nabokov may have felt his artistic sensibility was gay, no doubt true subjectively, but he also liked to sprinkle his prose with homophobic jibes. Ada, Part I, Chapter 4, 32:20 (last visited August 14, 2006):
"That was love, normal and mysterious. Less mysterious and considerably more grotesque were the passions which several generations of schoolmasters had failed to eradicate, and which as late as 1883 still enjoyed an unparalleled vogue at Riverlane. Every dormitory had its catamite. One hysterical lad from Upsala, cross-eyed, loose-lipped, with almost abnormally awkward limbs, but with a wonderfully tender skin texture and the round creamy charms of Bronzino's Cupid (the big one,whom a delighted satyr discovers in a lady's bower), was much prized and tortured by a group of foreign boys, mostly Greek and English, led by Cheshire, the rugby ace; and partly out of bravado, partly out of curiosity, Van surmounted his disgust and coldly watched their rough orgies. Soon, however, he abandoned this surrogate for a more natural though equally heartless divertissement."
Of course, the main character Van will come to realize he is reveling in another "grotesque" passion, that of incest. But here, Van is being normal and mysterious with respect to his first heterosexual love, and abnormal and laughable with respect to his "curiosity." No matter Nabokov's nuanced approach, it is arguably homophobic.BorisGleb 20:11, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Of course you can easily find many such passages. Grotesquerie is one color in Nabokov's palette.
Dybryd 18:52, 15 August 2006 (UTC)


Nabokov was an athiest/ agnostic, but neither he nor his family were 'Orthodox'. Hia family were 'Greek Catholic' Uniate. --Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:43, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

I've deleted "[[Category:Russian Orthodox Christians|Nabokov, Vladimir]]". Nothing in the article says that he was a Christian and I'd be surprised to read convincing evidence that he was one. But I'm open to rational persuasion, backed up with documentary proof. -- Hoary 10:49, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

This could be an issue of definition, couldn't it? Some religious groups define members in terms of whether they were baptized into the faith. I know this is the Catholic rule - anyone baptized a Catholic is a Catholic, whether or not they practice. It would seem plausible if the Orthodox had a similar conception, although I know nothing specific on that front. So while Nabokov may not have been a "Christian" in terms of believing in Jesus, and so forth, he was probably a "Christian" in terms of having been baptized as one. john k 14:19, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

To me, "Russian Orthodox Christian" means a non-trivial allegiance to Russian Orthodox Christianity. If membership of this category merely means baptism, it should be renamed accordingly, and I'll happily vote for its deletion as trivia. -- Hoary 14:28, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

"To me" is the essential phrase in that paragraph. Many religions define their membership culturally and familially as well by doctrine. You may see this as theologically trivial, but that doesn't make groups of cultural but non-observant Jews, Shiites, etc. any less notable from an encyclopedic standpoint. Dybryd 17:41, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
A Category:Christians that included everyone who was baptized would be silly. But indicating the denomination in which someone was baptized seems useful, especially when it's a large, clearly defined institution like the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches. With protestants, things become very confusing, and such a designation is probably pointless, since so many protestants attend churches of different denominations over the course of their lives. I'm not really sure what should be done, but I don't think it's mere trivia that someone was born into a large, historic church. john k 21:20, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

(i) Is any evidence adduced for any claim that VN was baptised into this church?

(ii) If he was so baptised, is any evidence adduced for any claim that the baptism meant anything to him?

(iii) But indicating the denomination in which someone was baptized seems useful, especially when it's a large, clearly defined institution like the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches. (iiia) How is it "useful"? (iiib) Is it really of no concern that the resource label "Russian Orthodox Christian" may mean no more than a single event in the person's infancy?

(iv) I don't think it's mere trivia that someone was born into a large, historic church. How is it more than mere trivia? -- Hoary 01:01, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Added because of this reference :

Homagetocatalonia 16:07, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Oh, and see the article. While reading a biography from the 60s, found a quote in which he is described as a "non-churchgoing Greek-Catholic."Homagetocatalonia 18:41, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

"Greek...Catholic"? Dybryd 19:34, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

If baptism is a criterion, Lenin should be listed as Russian Orthodox Christian--Georgius (talk) 09:43, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Boyd on religion in N's upbringing

From The Russian Years (42)

In late spring 1899 the newborn Nabokov narrowly escaped being christened Victor by a bumbling archpresbyter in a ceremony at 47 Morskaya.


...once past the stage of children's prayers he always remained completely aloof from "Christianism" as he called it, utterly indifferent "to organized mysticism, to religion, to the church - any church." Because his mother was of Old Believer stock, she had what Nabokov considered "a healthy distaste for the ritual of the Greek Catholic Church and for its priests" but equally imporant for the boy's development was her intense and pure religiousness "equal faith in the existence of another world and the impossibility of comprehending t in terms of earthly life."
V.D. Nabokov was more conventional and would take his children fairly the very select Church of the Twelve Apostles...almost behind their house. [...] Vladimir told his father on the way back from a service, some time before he was ten, that he found it boring. "You don't have to come, then."


The major effort in Nabokov's verse at this time was his "Angel" sequence, nine poems, each devoted to a different order in the celestial hierarchy.... Their angelic imagery has been claimed as proof of Nabokov's supposed religious sensibilities, but he himself later denied any inclination toward Christianity in the occasionally biblical scenes and tropes of his next ten years of voluble verse [...] he was interested not in religion but in developing Byzantine imagery.

Dybryd 01:30, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Indeed. From all of which I infer that he was primarily Christian in the sense of having been baptized, and secondarily for having had a vaguely Christian background. I have no idea whether this is also true for, say, Richard Dawkins, and until this amusing notion occurred to me a few seconds ago had no interest in the matter; but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he had been baptized etc etc. It would then strike me as ridiculous to call RD a Christian. (We ignore what he says, and merely consider the fact that he had water sloshed over him.) But perhaps that's just me. -- Hoary 06:39, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Categories of this sort seem inherently problematic. Better to actually describe Nabokov's religious background in the article. john k 14:33, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Yes. But even better to skip it. Boyd devotes a minuscule percentage of his substantial, two-volume biography to the matter; this article is very much shorter, and in the limited space available has much more important matters to deal with. -- Hoary 15:08, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
This discussion was concluded a long time ago, but I disagree with Hoary -- baptism into a church, rejection of its faith but continuing to use its imagery in your adult work, all of this deserves a few sentences -- especially given the prominent place that the idea of the afterlife plays in N's novels. Dybryd 20:25, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

"banned writer"?

The page has just been added to the category "banned writers." When was N's work banned? The most obvious candidate is of course Lolita, but as I understand it, the book simply had difficulty finding a publisher and was never actually censored. Has it (or another of bhis books) been banned since? Was he available in Soviet Russia? Dybryd 18:08, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

VN's work was banned in the Soviet Union. Griot 21:36, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
That should go in the article, shouldn't it? I'll check the Boyd index and bang out a brief paragraph. Dybryd 23:20, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Hey! Somebody remind me to actually do this! Dybryd 21:49, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Influences revisited

The matter of alleged influences is brought up near the top of this page. It seems that it's time to revisit it. -- Hoary 04:44, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Influences on VN

VN certainly had high respect for Bely's work. However, I see no influence whatever. I may be wrong: my knowledge of Bely is cursory. I'd like to see citations of reasoned arguments by recognized scholars for (and not just journalistic recyclings of received ideas about) who influenced VN and how. That is, each name should be accompanied by a note, citing a page-range within Boyd's biography, an essay within the Garland Companion, or similar. -- Hoary 04:44, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

VN himself claimed to have been influenced by Chekov and Flaubert. I'll see if I can come up with the quotes. He named Bely's "Petersburgh" as one of the five greatest books of the 20th Century. Griot 23:41, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Influence of VN

The list of people allegedly influenced by VN looks very dodgy to me. Some I don't know. One I do know a little is Salinger, for whose work VN had [what is to my mind] an inexplicable high regard. Quite aside from my opinion of Salinger's work (an opinion that, I'll rush to agree, is of no significance here whatever), I see no influence, other perhaps than that of care: VN was a careful writer, Salinger was (is?) I suppose a careful writer, tens of thousands of other authors are careful writers. Significantly, neither the article on VN nor that on Salinger mentions the other writer, other than in this single, unexplained claim for influence, which I've just now deleted.

Any number of writers may have expressed praise, even high praise, of Nabokov's works, or have had their names linked with his in this or that book review, or have said, probably in all sincerity, to have been influenced by this or that aspect of VN's work (or indeed by the man himself). To me, this doesn't imply noteworthy influence. Again, I think each name should be accompanied by a note, citing a reasoned argument for the influence, an argument by a recognized scholar. -- Hoary 04:44, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

I was the one who put the names of White and Updike on the list. You can literally hear Nabokov in White and Updike, and VN praised their works, probably hearing the echo of his own writing in theirs. I think Jeffrey Eugenides should go on the list, again on the basis of his use of alliteration and other literary techniuqes that he had in common with Nabokov. I agree that we should cite an argument for listing writers' names; however, all such citations will be subjective unless the writer him- or herself claims to be influenced by VN. Griot 23:46, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, all such citations would be subjective, but there's a big difference between (a) subjective judgements for which there is persuasive argument (and not an argument by you or me, but one by a recognized expert) and (b) those which are merely received ideas. Also, I'd be very wary of authorial claims of being influenced: some of the names here are of excellent writers, some mean nothing to me; I don't want to belittle any of them but still say that letting people in by their own say-so is a wonderful invitation for quasi-spamvertising by or on behalf of utter mediocrities. I mean, if I'd written and somehow managed to have published a crummy novel with some fancy turns of phrase, and if the article on myself survived on WP (very easy, of course), what a marvelous way to pump myself up it would be if I linked my article from VN's. -- Hoary 02:27, 10 January 2007 (UTC)


"He gained both fame and notoriety with his novel Lolita (1955), which tells of a grown man's devouring passion for a twelve-year-old girl."

I know this is nit-picking, but shouldn't this read: "it tells the story of a pedophile's devouring passion for a twelve-year-old girl? Lolita doesn't turn him into one, and art considerations shouldn't change what he is/how he is seen, especially in an article entry. I like Nabokov's characters as much as anyone, but as written the article seems to fall into the same whimsical romanticizing/rationalizing that Humbert does to justify himself to himself. He is not just a grown man with a passion, but a pedophile who has acted upon it...

I wanted to see what people thought of this...

I think it's ridiculous. Griot 20:09, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Pedophile is an inaccurate word, because it describes someone who is attracted to pre-pubescent children. Anchoress 20:33, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't think "devouring passion" is the kind of phrase a resource editor should use unless he's quoting someone - it's too subjective and highly colored.
Obviously Humbert is a pedophile - he defines the limits of his attraction as being to children between the ages of nine and fourteen. Dybryd 08:41, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

Humbert is a fictional person and consequently it is futile to try to give him a precise diagnosis; the age and maturity range of girls which sexually arouse him does not match any category used by sexuologists.--Georgius (talk) 09:58, 23 March 2009 (UTC)


wtf, that is not how one pronounces nabokov, you pronounce it na-bo-k-o-v not nabak-a-v as the IPA of his name seems to suggest.--Greg.loutsenko 22:34, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Also, the stress is supposed to be on the 2nd syllable in both names: Na-BO-kov and Vla-DEE-mir. [1]. -- Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:48, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Styles & Themes section?

Should this article have a "Style & Themes" section, given Nabokov's objection to the themes in literature. In one of his essays (wish I could remember which) he pokes fun of literature professors and their obsession with "themes." I think this Themes section is purely subjective and should go anyway. And at least for God's sakes remove the ampersand. This section was introduced by Sirin97 (cute, that) on August 13, 2006. I'm surprised it's lasted this long and does anyone object if I remove it? Griot 17:09, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Personal opinion here

"Perhaps his defining work, which met with a mixed response, is his longest novel, Ada (1969)." -- This should be changed, per guidelines WP:WEASEL and Resource: Neutral_point_of_view#A_simple_formulation. -- 14:11, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Dybryd 18:19, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Move Lolita-specific links to Lolita?

A couple of the entries in External Links refer only to Lolita, no N. or his work in general. I think they should be moved to the article for that novel, or just deleted if they are already duplicated there. Okay?

Dybryd 06:18, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Okay, going ahead and doing this apparently non-controversial thing. Dybryd 15:20, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Help with sources on censorship?

I had assumed that Boyd's biography would give me plenty on the censorship of Nabokov, but it doesn't. Although I haven't re-read the whole thing, Boyd seems to just assume Soviet censorship, and only gives a brief mention to its relaxation in the 1980s.

Can someone suggest another source for this info, or have I just not gone deeply enough into Boyd? (I have just been fishing about using the index.)

Dybryd 03:29, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Irrelevantly: While I realize that it's most unusual to delete talk page contributions, I've taken the liberty of deleting this one (placed here) as it was verbose yet obviously added nothing. -- Hoary (talk) 07:07, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Nabokov book cover.jpg

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There is no mention of his death other than the date it happened. I'm at least a little curious about it. --Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:51, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

While standing at his writing lectern, he collapsed heavily into his wife's arms. After bidding goodbye to beloved wife and son, died soon afterward in a Swiss hospital, which may have be substandard. Cause of death: prostate cancer.Lestrade (talk) 19:12, 19 April 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

Googlized book

I note that Boyd, Brian, Vladimir Nabokov: The American years is on Google Books. (talk) 01:49, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

Biography typo

Besides the bad punctuation, there's a missing word here that makes it impossible to understand the sentence: "In 1936, when Vera lost her job due to the antisemitic environment, and the assassin of his father was appointed second-in-command of the Russian émigré group, Nabokov started to look for jobs in the English-speaking world." --Preceding unsigned comment added by JO 24 (talk o contribs) 07:07, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

I've given it a shot myself. I hope it's clearer now.--Septemberfourth476 (talk) 16:01, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Sentence fragment

The sentence that begins, "Vera lost her job..." seems to be missing a word or words, but I can't tell what it/they might be. (talk) 19:30, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Date of birth

Date of birth is different in the infobox, which one is the right one? --Preceding unsigned comment added by Sehzades (talk o contribs) 20:11, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

Nabokov's date of birth appears to create a lot of confusion, even among Russian authors. I have unified all the Julian calendar dates to read 10 April 1899 and moved the reference 4 to a large footnote. I then expanded the footnote to explain at more length the basis of the confusion, citing Brian Boyd's biography 1993 edition. 84user (talk) 02:32, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
The current explanation has a couple of issues:
  • Confusion over his birth date was generated by Russia switching from the Old Style Julian to the New Style Gregorian calendar at the beginning of the 20th century.
  • The switch didn't happen "at the beginning of the 20th century", but in 1918.
  • But I would argue the confusion had nothing to do with the switch at all. If Russia had persisted in the use of the Julian calendar to this day, some people would still be miscalculating Nabokov's Gregorian calendar date of birth (and those of many other people, naturally).
  • It's fairly common to see 20th century (or later) people getting this wrong, and it comes from muddled thinking.
  • Such calculations should be done using the offset (gap between the calendars) that applied at the time of the date in question, NOT at the time the calculation is being made. In 1899, the gap was 12 days; that is all one needs to know. 10 April 1899 (Julian) + 12 days = 22 April 1899 (Gregorian). That is the calculation, plain and simple.
  • 23 April should never have come into it. But some people who were redoing such calculations in the 20th century were taking the 13-day gap that then applied to dates in the 20th century, and misapplying it to dates in the 19th, 18th, 17th and 16th centuries (when the gaps were 12, 11, 10 and 10 days respectively). Purely because it was now the 20th century. But so what? The dates in question were NOT in the 20th century, so the 13-day gap was utterly irrelevant to them.
  • To put it another way: If the Gregorian calendar had been in place in Russia when Nabokov was born, his birth date would have been shown as 22 April 1899. His birthday would only ever have been celebrated on 22 April, and none of this confusion would ever have arisen. So, the easiest way of thinking about it is to ask "What would his date of birth have been if the Gregorian calendar had been in place in Russia when he was born?". Answer: 22 April 1899. End of story.
  • While the 22 April date is perhaps technically more correct ...
  • Not "perhaps technically more correct", but DEFINITELY the only correct date. There's no need to water this down just because Nabokov preferred, for his own reasons, to celebrate his birthday on the wrong day, 23 April.
  • Can I suggest the following revised wording:
Confusion over his birth date was generated by some people misunderstanding the relationship between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. At the time of Nabokov's birth, the offset between the calendars was 12 days. His date of birth in the Julian calendar was 10 April 1899; in the Gregorian, 22 April 1899. The fact that the offset increased from 12 to 13 days for dates occurring after February 1900 was always irrelevant to earlier dates, and hence a 13-day offset should never have been applied to Nabokov's date of birth. Nevertheless, it was so misapplied by some writers, and 23 April came to be erroneously shown in many places as his birthday. In his memoirs Speak, Memory Nabokov indicates he preferred to celebrate his birthday "with diminishing pomp" on 23 April (p. 6). As he happily pointed out on several occasions during interviews, this meant he also shared a birthday with William Shakespeare and Shirley Temple (see, for example, his New York Times interview with Alden Whitman on 23 April 1969, p. 20; see also Brian Boyd's biography). -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 04:28, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
I have copied the above helpful suggestion to Vladimir Nabokov#Footnotes, adding Boyd cites. For wikihistorians, the origin of the wording is: birthday clarified on 2004-01-12, expansion of Note on Nabokov's date of birth on 2005-09-14, a correction and rewording on 2007-12-12, a move of Birth date section to Biography on 2008-08-28, footnote changes on 2009-01-03, my expansion and move to footnotes on 2009-05-15, and pasting in of above suggestion just now. -84user (talk) 01:44, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I've made a slight tweak already. Cheers. -- 02:20, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

America section

an article in the May-June 2006 Stanford Alumni magazine by Cynthia Haven [[4]]has a well-documented discussion of Nobokov journeying west by car, teaching at Stanford in 1941, and interacting with a Slavic language professor, Henry Lanz. It would be useful to fit these events into the chronology.Jfred60606 (talk) 14:32, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Did he speak German?

He lived in Berlin from 1922 to 1937, yet his son has claimed that he spoke "practically no German"[5]. It find it highly unlikely that someone could live in Berlin for all these years and speak "practically no German", especially at a time when foreign languages were not as widely taught in Germany as the case is today. It would be like living in New York for 14 years and speak practically no English. It would be nice to have some sources on his language abilities, and an explanation of how he managed to live in Germany for all those years without speaking the language (provided that was really the case). Sound Solkemon (talk) 17:01, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

The German resource also mention that he, in later life, claimed to speak very little German, but argues the claim is exaggerated and that he indeed had an adequate grasp of German ("Nabokov behauptete in späteren Jahren, fast kein Deutsch zu können - was nachweislich etwas übertrieben war. Er prüfte die deutschen Übersetzungen seiner Bücher nicht selbst, sondern überließ dies seiner Frau Vera und arbeitete sich für seine Vorlesungen zur deutschen Literatur mühsam mit Wörterbüchern durch die Originale, konnte sich auf deutsch aber immerhin grob verständigen und am Diskurs über Entomologie teilnehmen"). Sound Solkemon (talk) 17:47, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

It does seem unlikely that a man could live in a country for so long and not learn the language. However, Nabokov claimed that he chose not to learn German for fear of losing his intimate relationship with Russian. It's worth noting that while he wrote in English, French and, of course, Russian, he never published anything in German. It's plausible that he didn't have to learn German, there was a large Russian emigre population in Germany at the time, for whom Nabokov wrote(and who probably had some expectation, at first, of going home). It really depends how insular that community was, or how social Nabokov was, I know of Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants to the UK that have lived here decades and not learned English, and I'm sure there are many first generation immigrants in New York that do not speak English. But implausible or not if you want to put it on resource (I suppose in connection to the Maar thing) you'll have to find some source that gives evidence of his reading the language, or if you want to include the speculation you mentioned from the German wiki, then to at least provide sufficient space for his claims to the contrary. Grcaldwell (talk) 22:46, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
It's also worth noting that Vera was gleefully anti-German. (To a colleague's German wife: "I was reminded of you every day at the hotel in California. We had 'a German maid'."). Claiming to have never learned the language is just the kind of smiling slight that would have suited the family's idea of itself. (talk) 00:59, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Russian/American/Swiss author

Another editor is keen to correct the short description of VN from "Russian American" to "Russian".

VN was a Russian author. He was born in Russia, learned Russian as a first language, lived his "formative years" in Russia, wrote and published in Russian before doing so in any other language, and wrote and published works in Russian that are rated highly in several reputable accounts of Russian literature of the 20th century.

VN was an American author. He was proficient in English, lived in the US, convincingly described himself as happy in the US, and wrote and published in English before, while, and after he was in the US. He wrote and published works that are rated highly in most even-handed accounts of US literature (or literature in English) of the 20th century.

VN also wrote a small amount in French and had that published too. He was proficient in French, lived in Switzerland and convincingly described himself as happy lepping there. I'd be surprised if he got more than a mention in even-handed accounts of francophone or Swiss literature of the 20th century, but I'd happily be corrected on this. -- Hoary (talk) 00:41, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

He is primarly known as Russian author. It is true that he did spend 20 years living in the United States, but he also spent 19 years in Germany and 16 years in Switzerland. As a writer, he wrote primarly in Russian, but also in English (although he wrote his masterpieceLolita, first in English) and Mademoiselle O in French. Born to Russian parents, his nationallity at birth was Russian. The term "American wrier" associates to writer from the United States, which he maybe was. But he wrote, when he lived in Germany and Switzerland too. In Germany, he wrote shrot stories, and in Switzerland novels. If we have in mind this, it is clear, that he was also a German and a Swiss writer. Another fact is the difference, between English language and the United States. In this occassion, Nabokov lived in the United States, and the fact that he wrote in English, just firms that he was American writer. It would be appropriate to consider him as an English language writer, but not to use this to confirm that he was American writer (ex. Milana Terloeva is a Chechen, but is a French language writer). For me, it would be appropriate to add, he was German, and also Swiss writer, because he wrote in this countries too. This is a rarely case, and I know, it's hard to make a good decision, but my opinion is that the definition that he was "Russian American writer" is completely wrong.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 16:09, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
P.S.The alternative way is to consider Nabokov, just as Russian writer, which actually he was.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 16:52, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Some of his most famous works were written as an American citizen. He also died an American citizen. In this case, Russian American is appropriate. He gained fame as a Russian citizen, but became even more famous as an American citizen. This should not be excised from the lead. He did not become a citizen of Germany or Switzerland, so those countries need not be considered in the wording of the lead section. Yworo (talk) 20:39, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
He became more famous as an English language writer. He was also a French language writer. His citizenship is good to be pointed in the article, but not to describe his occupation. He was educated in Russia, and it is significant. It would be appropriate to add a sentence, with the fact he got AMerican citizenship.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 21:20, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
He should be described as Russian American, as he was a citizen of both countries and his work was continous through both his Russian and American citizenships. I believe you are misunderstanding the use of the term, Russian American as emphasizing American, which it does not. Would you prefer a hyphen?
Bringing up the languages he wrote in is a complete red herring. The lead is supposed to give his citizenship(s) only, not places of residence or languages spoken or written. Yworo (talk) 21:49, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
It's better, using a hypher, becuse the article Russian Ameicans reffers to the Americans of ancestors from Russia.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 21:52, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

The Original of Laura's placement

I was wondering whether The Original of Laura should be placed within the Novels / English section at the bottom of the page. I feel it should be placed within the Miscellenea section. This is for a few reasons. Firstly its length makes it more of a short story or novella. Secondly as discussed in an interview the publishers themselves do not consider it a novel, more as an insight into a process which might have led to a novel. While tempting to delve into subjective questions of quality, I feel that purely on the level of form its place is in the Miscellenea section. Any other thoughts? Apologies for any breaches of talk page guidlines. This is my first post ever. Exilegoesout (talk) 01:21, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Media adaptations

The list of appearances in other media was pretty short and didn't mention Lolita. If you didn't already know which book was made into a movie, you had to got the page of every book to confirm. Therfore I took the liberty of adding a link to Lolita, expanding the original list to include several books like Despair and others, linking to both the book title and/or to the wiki page for the adapted work. I apologize if I was too aggressive. I realized afterward that I should have raised this issue on the talk page first before acting. Fairwin99 (talk) 07:14, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

External References

The 07:36, 16 January 2011 edit of Spanglej removed several external references without comment or rationale. I replaced one of these - the link to a full database of images of images of the covers, dust jackets, spines, copyright page, and any points identifying the first editions of every Nabokov book that has been published in English. Kind of a unique resource. -- Preceding unsigned comment added by Rknasc (talk o contribs)

Hi, I did give an edit summary, which is to say the edit referenced WP:LINKFARM and WP:EL. There were 22 links, which is a lot. WP:EL (External links) gives guidelines as to what to include. It states that English language sites take precedence, and that no fan sites or spam (advertising) should be included. is a privately run website. is a deadlink. The article on "The Gay Nabokov" was given through the link to a generic citation site. I added the original article instead, as featured in Salon magazine. I think that about covers it. Because Nabokov lived in the US for so long and is so well known internationally, there are a great many resources in English. This is an encyclopaedia in English and needs to signpost to resources in English where possible. I hope that makes the editing decision clearer. Best wishes Span (talk) 23:30, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. By the way, Airflow Sciences, is donating space for the Nabokov website. No advertising appears in the link. Rknasc (talk) 14:58, 2 February 2011 (UTC)

Is there really no free photo?

The statue is a valuable image to have in itself, but not ideal as a main image for the page. Have licensing standards for images of notable dead individuals become stricter since I was editing more actively? It used to be an area where there was a little more flexibility, since no completely free image can now be created. Has anyone thought of emailing a copyright owner for specific permission? (talk) 01:11, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

I've uploaded one from Flickr with a free license. Span (talk) 12:55, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Fantastic, thanks! (talk) 01:13, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

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Claims that VN's gay uncle raped him

The Salon article says:

Uncle Ruka, as he was universally known, was a wealthy, eccentric dilettante, and there's every indication that he was in love with the young Nabokov; certainly his attachment to his favorite nephew went beyond what was appropriate. He appears to have subjected Nabokov to a mild form of sexual abuse: "When I was eight or nine," Nabokov writes in Speak, Memory, "he would invariably take me upon his knee after lunch and (while two young footmen were clearing the table in the empty dining room) fondle me, with crooning sounds and fancy endearments."

The autobiography goes on to say that he found this discomforting and humiliating. Otherwise the gay uncle is positively depicted.

User:Ariadavid is trying to turn this into:

It has been alleged that Vladimir inherited the estate due to his uncle's favoritism of the young boy stemming from a sordid sexual relationship the two may have had.

The choice of words implies strongly that his uncle raped him, which is the only way that the pair could have had a sexual relationship, and that VN received or accepted the estate as a kind of "payment". Nothing in the article or in the autobiography supports this classic homophobic interpretation.

I cannot revert now without crossing 3RR, so please compare this with my version and make a decision. Xanthoxyl < 20:22, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

I have tried politely discussing and reasoning this point of interest with User:Xanthoxyl however they seem intent on accusing my edit of baseless homophobia. The intention was to fully explain the exact nature of how and why a young VN (who was in fact 17 at the time of his inheritance) would illicit the favoritism of his Uncle in accordance with what was written in the article itself. I have repeatedly mentioned to this editor that if the wording is not implicit enough that I would be more than willing to rephrase it. However, they seem to feel that complete omission based on an absurd claim of homophobia is the only option. Further more, the article in question after the above quoted passage does not in fact go on to depict the gay uncle in a favorable light, and rather it also goes a step further drawing on a similar themes noted in the biography by Boyd

In his biography of Nabokov, Boyd notes "Humbert's first feignedly nonchalant fumbles with Lolita," and suggests that "the adult Nabokov's disapproval of homosexuals and his solicitude for childhood innocence may all have their origins here."

The comparisons to the overtly sexual Lolita and the passage from Speak Memory clearly demonstrate the sexualized nature of the uncle towards VN. It goes on further to state that he left his entire estate to his "favorite nephew" making note that he deliberately overlooked his second nephew Sergei. This favoritism resulting from a sexualized infatuation culminating in the mild sexual abuse listed above as "fondling" (a form of sexual molestation) that would naturally leave any victim feeling discomforted and humiliated.

I in now way meant to convey that VN was a willing participant in these abuses. And like I have stated before I have offered to reword the statement however this editor insists on being oppositional and vindictive. Ariadavid (talk) 21:22, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

It sounds like we might have a bit of editing synthesis/ orginal research going on here. See WP:SYNTHESIS and WP:OR for more guidelines on this. We as encyclopaedia editors can only state in in WP articles what the reliable sources state, not our own conclusions from what we feel the sources might suggest. I would say it's fine to re-state what the autobiography, biography or article state, in fairly literal terms. "Sordid sexual relationship" is pretty non-specific and contains editorial judgement. Is there a source that connects the supposed abuse to the inheritance? I'm sure allegations of editors' homophobia don't help us in finding a consensus. Let's assume good faith. Span (talk) 21:58, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Hello User: Spanglej, thank you for your clarificaiton. I will make the appropriate amendments the description. I was also found several other sources that I will use in reference that connect the sexual abuse with inheritance. With thanks, Ariadavid (talk) 21:14, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
The two new sources produced for the sake of the "It has been alleged" are (a) a Freudian paper from 1990 arguing that Vladimir Nabokov was himself a pedophile, and (b) a dumbed-down essay (posted on a website to help students cheat at writing assignments) basing its assertions purely on the first source. Xanthoxyl < 01:53, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

I was asked to provide a second source that suggests that the sexual abuse between the uncle and VN also incited the inheritance. It is irrelevant that the paper itself also discusses the other topic as to whether Nabokov was a pedophile himself or not. The third source is a paper that rehashes the first. I have a fourth if you are interested, however it is not readily available to the public and is a rogue treatise that I felt was too controversial to utilize. Ariadavid (talk) 02:11, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

  • Also, after rechecking the website of the third source (, its states clearly in the introductory video that "123HelpMe does not endorse any form of plagiarism." Thats because 123HelpMe is a website designed for educational purposes and is utilized by students and writers to improve the quality of their work. Ariadavid (talk) 02:26, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
    • I have provided a fourth reference that is more recent and discusses this subject to considerable length. I can possibly provide a fifth however I will need time to ascertain a copy of the book in order to confirm it's content. Ariadavid (talk) 04:31, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Here are the four sources Ariadavid adduces:

  1. Centerwall, Brandon S. (Fall 1990). "Hiding in Plain Sight: Nabokov and Pedophilia". Texas Studies in Literature and Language 32 (3): pp. 468-84.
  2. Grossman, Lev. "The gay Nabokov".
  4. Morgan Ph.D, Dr Joanne (2005). Solving Nabokov's Lolita Riddle. Newtown: Cosynch Press. pp. 380. ISBN 0646439138, 9780646439136.


  1. Centerwall: enotes reports: eNotes is currently unavailable while we perform routine maintenance. Rest assured we are working to bring the site back up as quickly as possible. So I can't read it now. In the meantime, I'll say that I did read this thing some years ago and was impressed by the enthusiasm of the author for saying that this or that was the only possible interpretation of this or that. The whole thing seemed like a mere house of cards, the work of a keen if naive undergraduate rather than a doctoral student.
  2. Grossman: This brings no evidence for sexual molestation beyond what VN himself wrote.
  3. Junk source.
  4. Morgan I hadn't heard of this book or its publisher. Googling shows that yes, it is indeed published by the "Cosynch Press". Googling "cosynch press" -lolita brings nothing. This looks like a self-published book. Googling some more, sure enough I find this, in which Morgan writes (within a very short-lived blog) that "As a young boy [VN] was badly abused by his paedophilic Uncle Ruka. That's what I argued in my self-published book Solving Nabokov's Lolita Riddle (2005)" (emphasis added).

So to sum up, we have: (1) a literary essay, (2) one article that brings no new evidence, (3) an obvious junk source, and (4) a self-published book. The only one that might be of significance here is the first (even though my memory tells me the reverse). Just what historical research did Centerwall do, and just what evidence (and not mere inferences) does he present? -- Hoary (talk) 07:52, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

  • Whether there is actual evidence or inference is not the point. I was asked to provide a source that opines a connection between the sexual abuse and the inheritance. The first source is the first to make such an assertion. The second source was researched by the author who interviewed first hand sources and confirms that there was at least a mild form of sexual abuse. They use the quote from Speak Memory which Nabokov himself described to his American publishers was to be his most autobiographical prose. The third I added as it rehashes the first source but also I included it chiefly because not a lot of people will be able to read the Centerwall piece in full due to pricing etc and the "junk source" points out that the Centerwall piece makes the sex abuse/inheritance connection. The book by Morgan is indeed self published however she describes the reasoning behind this and also includes that her research was conducted over a ten year period. Also her work is referenced in more recent Nabokov scholarship such as Speak Nabokov by Michael Maar. I think its fair to say that the first, the second and the Morgan source are reliable sources. The "123HelpMe" source can be deleted if it is unnecessary and ephemeral. I understand that this is a unique topic to VN's biography that can neither be fully proved nor disproved and opinion on it varies from scholar to scholar. However, that fact remains that there is some discussion of it in Nabokov scholarship. That is why it reads as "it has been alleged..." and "may have". I would be happy to word it as "It has been alleged by some scholars..." and add an additional caveat stating that the controversial element of the theory. Ariadavid (talk) 04:44, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
    • You now suggest: It has been alleged by some scholars... Does Maar allege it? (I am not familiar with his book.) Does anybody else of note allege it? -- Hoary (talk) 14:12, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
      • Yes, it does. Maar agrees with Morgan and references her book. So now theres Centerwall, Grossman, Morgan and Maar that all have conducted extensive background research into it VN's early life. And you're asking me for yet another source? The only other source I can think of at present is Paul Russell and Russell's book actually is a work of historical fiction. Ariadavid (talk) 20:53, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
Centerwall says Nabokov was a closet pedophile. Fringe. Grossman does not do anything other than quote from Speak, Memory. Morgan is self-published and also argues that Nabokov was a pedophile. A reviewer, Sarah Holland-Batt, wrote:

Unfortunately, all the crucial checks and balances that are in place during the institutional publication of an academic work have been removed by the self-publication process, allowing Morgan to reach farcical and thoroughly libellous conclusions with immunity. [...] Morgan's spurious allegations of paedophilia are not restricted to Nabokov and his uncle, however; over the course of her work, she also suggests that Shirley Temple was controlled by a nefarious paedophile network. [6]

And as for Maar, here's a sample of his methods as described by one reviewer:

One problem with Maar's scholarship is that a lot of it is so farfetched that it should never have been published. While discussing Nabokov's infamous book of pedophilia, Maar takes up the tried and true theory that Lolita dies and Humbert imagines that she ran away with Quilty as a way to mask that. It's an intriguing theory, but his sole piece of proof is the phrase "marble arms," which Humbert uses to describe his arms that hold Lolita after sex. Maar finds it a reference to King Lear (because the le and the ar spell "lear"), and thus because Lear has lost Cordelia Humbert has lost Lolita. Such grasping speculation has little place in the kind of serious book that Maar wants Speak, Nabokov to be, but the fact is that far too often in this short book one's eyebrows are raised in a similar fashion. [7]

Xanthoxyl < 22:58, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Ariadavid: So now theres Centerwall, Grossman, Morgan and Maar that all have conducted extensive background research into it VN's early life. Let's take them one by one.
  • Centerwall. Xanthoxyl: Centerwall says Nabokov was a closet pedophile. Fringe. Yes, this accords with my memory of the paper. I remember reading it with amused befuddlement: How could anything this bad be published in a journal with serious pretensions?
  • Grossman. Xanthoxyl: Grossman does not do anything other than quote from Speak, Memory. Correct. Certainly, he's done his homework about VN's brother and the relationship between the brothers, and he writes intelligently about the likely results. But the fact is, he says very little about VN's uncle, and nothing that's new.
  • Morgan: Morgan's book was rejected by self-respecting publishers for very good reason. One can ignore it or ridicule it; let's be kind to the author and plump for the former.
  • Maar: The review suggests that his book is feeble but intermittently of interest, as he does occasionally notice things that have gone unnoticed. The book shouldn't be dismissed so quickly, as it has got at least one good review: here in the New Statesman. However, this review doesn't suggest that Maar did any background research. Indeed, it strongly suggests the reverse: It is a startling piece of literary detective work, which deciphers the word games and patterns that permeate Nabokov's novels in order to throw light on the author's life. Well, just what "extensive background research" did Maar conduct into VN's uncle and the relationship between the two? Just what does he say?
-- Hoary (talk) 03:49, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

First of all since when do "good" reviews and "bad" reviews bare any weight as to what should be included in an encyclopedia? Morgan's book was in part based on research that she accumulated in her dissertation earning her PhD. Also she explains in her blog that contrary to popular assumptions on self publishing she was initially accepted to be published. However, issues concerning the 9/11 tragedy in New York at the time marked a significant change in the market's interest thus her engagement to be published was cancelled until further notice. She did not care to wait and thus pursued self publishing. So there must have been some merit to what she had written in her book for it to earn her a doctorate. Notice that any bad review of the treatise criticizes her mainly for this fact and doesn't accurately question the work or its findings. I will admit I myself was skeptical upon first discovering the Morgan piece however her points are well demonstrated and concluded making a convincing argument.

Within the Morgan piece there is discussion and direct quoting of a letter from VN to his American publishers regarding the notion that Speak Memory was to be his "most autobiographical" piece to date. Thus the Grossman piece quoting from Speak Memory is a valid point especially since he also correlates the piece by Boyd postulating that this is where the origins of VN's homophobia may have taken route. Your personal opinions of the Centerwall piece should not negate whether it is a reliable source or not. If you're going to consider origin of publishing as an indicator of legitimacy for the Morgan piece then the Centerwall piece was published by a prestigious literary journal. The fact that its main focus is that Nabokov was allegedly a pedophile does not discount it as a source that correlates the supposed sexual abuse and the inheritance as a direct consolation.

Furthermore, Michael Maar is an internationally acclaimed and recognized Nabokov scholar, his most successful work prior to Speak Nabokov was the Two Lolitas. So, any time there is a major publication with a new assertion there is always going to be conservative critics who attempt denigrate and refute the piece in question. If you really would like me to quote directly from the book then I will need time to procure a copy. The fact that the allegations of sexual abuse are actually known to be in the book should stand for itself. Again, I emphasize on the point that we as editors here it is not our duty in this instance to prove whether the sexual abuse happened or not. But rather that there are scholars who do in fact allege that these things happened.

Though given the amount of research that has gone into finding all of these sources I'm wondering if it would please the consensus if in addition to this simple sentence concluding with the abuse/inheritance connection if I should write a section detailing the theory of abuse and outlining the arguments for and against it. Which obviously would speak at length about VN's personal feelings towards homosexuality/homophobia and the role it played in his life and work. Lastly, it occurred to me that I'm being asked to provide reference upon reference asserting that these things in question did happen but can anyone provide me with a source that says irrefutably that the abuse didn't happen? Ariadavid (talk) 22:28, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

There have been dozens of PhD theses about Nabokov. You say that Morgan explains in her blog that contrary to popular assumptions on self publishing she was initially accepted to be published. However, issues concerning the 9/11 tragedy in New York at the time marked a significant change in the market's interest thus her engagement to be published was cancelled until further notice. Really? She also says (here): As my work fell outside accepted literary paradigms of analysis the review copies I dispatched in 2005, with one or two exceptions, were ignored. My case was not helped by the fact that I proved to be an incredibly bad editor and proof-reader of my own writing. ¶ You say that The fact that [the main focus of the Centerwall piece] is that Nabokov was allegedly a pedophile does not discount it as a source that correlates the supposed sexual abuse and the inheritance as a direct consolation. Actually it does, if, or so far as, Centerwall was an excited fantasist. But I don't have the paper in front of me now. Just what research did Centerwall do on the relation between VN and his uncle? ¶ You say: Michael Maar is an internationally acclaimed and recognized Nabokov scholar. That's a stretch. Michael Maar is a literary scholar, who is known for having written two related books, both getting mixed reactions. ¶ You say: I emphasize on the point that we as editors here it is not our duty in this instance to prove whether the sexual abuse happened or not. But rather that there are scholars who do in fact allege that these things happened. You're half right. Look, there's an abundance of people who can be called scholars, if possessing a PhD on a relevant topic and having a paper published constitute scholarship. But when I think of Nabokov scholars I think of people such as Boyd, Parker, Johnson, Alexandrov, Wood, Tammi, Diment, Barabtarlo.... Which of these people (or others who have books out from university presses, or similar) back up what you're saying? If none do, then this is merely fringe talk. ¶ can anyone provide me with a source that says irrefutably that the abuse didn't happen? No, and I can't provide you with a source that says irrefutably that VN didn't have a Ghanaian love-child, or that he didn't have six toes on his left foot, or that he didn't have a secret liking for the mambo. -- Hoary (talk) 02:07, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
And a bit more. Ariadavid writes above: there must have been some merit to what [Morgan] had written in her book for it to earn her a doctorate. Which doctorate would this be? ¶ This page (2005) tells us that Morgan's thesis (2002) was titled "Social Change and the Charismatic 'Author-Leader': A Case Study of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique". It doesn't mention a dissertation about Lolita. Within that page, Morgan points to This website lives on, courtesy of Here's Morgan's description (as of December 2005) of the book and herself. No mention of a PhD thesis, beyond: "Social Change and the Charismatic 'Author-Leader': A Case Study of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique" (2002). The latest version of the page I can find (February 2008) is here; there is no relevant change. I may have missed something, but I can't see at any sign that the website lasted any longer. And I can't see any sign of a second PhD. ¶ Instead, it seems that while Morgan was writing a sociological PhD thesis on Friedan, she became interested in Lolita, realized that this was a tangent, and did not put the bulk of her cogitations into her dissertation. If I'm right, then her book is not very similar to anything recognized as a doctoral dissertation. ¶ Incidentally, googling "social change and the charismatic" joanne morgan brings me a total of one (1) hit, so it seems unlikely that any Lolita/Nabokov-related element within it would have had much direct impact. -- Hoary (talk) 03:11, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
The title seems a bit unclear; here, we read of Morgan's "Social Change and Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique: A Study of the Charismatic 'author-leader'". -- Hoary (talk) 12:41, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
I now have a copy of Centerwall's paper. It's a remarkable piece. Centerwall hasn't actually done any research on uncle Ruka himself; instead, in pages 479–81 he develops an argument merely from bits and pieces he's found in two sources: Speak, Memory and Andrew Field's VN. (According to the review in the LA Times, VN "is a fine piece of detective work and analysis, a hybrid work that would please Nabokov, if any biography could". I'm glad I wasn't sipping coffee [or something stronger] when reading that: I'd have snorted it out all over my keyboard.) Anyway, what Centerwall confects from Speak Memory is that "perhaps" uncle Ruka bequeathed him the house for "services rendered", that VN's denial of any homosexual experience up until age 11 means that "What happened at age twelve is left unstated" (note the sleight of hand here: the implication that something did happen at age 12), and the fact that three of VN's dodgiest characters steer clear of fellatio (and Humbert Humbert is repelled by mention of it) shows that the author was repelled by it, so adding it all up we infer that at the age of 12 VN had to give BJs to his uncle. Yeah well, imaginably. Apparently Centerwall continued to bang on about this in another article published in 1992: "Vladimir Nabokov, A Case Study in Pedophilia" (Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, vol 15, 1992). But does anybody of significance take any of this seriously? -- Hoary (talk) 10:10, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
  • I have ordered a copy of the Maar text to corroborate its findings and theories. Also on terms of Morgan and her dissertation I clearly stated in part I said nothing about a separate Lolita paper.

The Centerwall piece, I was about to mention, is discussed actively in the Vladimir Nabokov Electronic Forum that you linked above which is compromised of leading Nabokov experts. The reception of the piece appears to be mixed, though I find it also interesting that Morgan is also a member and appears to be overall well received there. Though again there are members there who are subscribers to her theory or those who remain skeptic. The Centerwall piece also appears to be referenced in various scholarly papers regarding this topic. So when asked who takes this seriously not only the people at the Texas Studies in Literature and Language but a good portion of people writing a thesis on the topic of VN's sexuality and early development. I'm not familiar with the Field piece myself but it appears as you've pointed out to have received a positive sense of recognition regardless of how amusing that might be to you.(?) I have found a link that also confirms that as late as 1994 the Institute for Psychological Study of the Arts at the University of Florida recognizes the Centerwall piece in its bibliography here:

  1. REDIRECT [[8]]

It appears also that Centerwall is not the first to make claims of Nabokov's pedophilia. Margaret Morganroth Gullette makes similar allegations but I'm not intimately familiar with her work to give a complete description of her theories. Lastly, while I'm more than happy to research this further I would like to remind you that I was only asked to provide from the beginning an alternative source that connects the sexual abuse to the inheritance. But in the process I have nonetheless unearthed the fact there is beyond a doubt a discussion in scholarly circles that these things may or may not have come to pass. Its like you pointed which is a point I'm trying to make here; someone could've written that Nabokov was the first man on the moon. Now it's obviously an outrageous claim and if only one person ever wrote it and it was never thought of as a possibility again then obviously it would be of little consequence. However, if people actively over the course several decades came up with similar theories then obviously this is an active discussion. The question itself however tenuous is nonetheless relevant. Is it not? I'm not saying that I personally believe in these theories, but there is enough literature to suggest that yes these claims have been made. Which is why I suggest that it be listed as a theory but stated with a caveat explaining the tenuous nature of the claim. Ariadavid (talk) 23:32, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Ariadavid: I'm not familiar with the Field piece myself but it appears as you've pointed out to have received a positive sense of recognition regardless of how amusing that might be to you.(?) Huh? You seem to have completely misunderstood me, and also to be unaware of VN's opinion of Field's earlier biography, of the relationship between that biography and Field's later biography, and of the general opinion among Nabokov scholars of this later biography. ¶ as late as 1994 the Institute for Psychological Study of the Arts at the University of Florida recognizes the Centerwall piece in its bibliography here. IPSA presents "a bibliography of 1552 books and articles published in our field in 1993". (The journal with Centerwall's piece perhaps came out the year after the ostensible year of publication; such things happen.) Anyway, his piece is merely listed with 1551 others for the year: inclusion in the bibliography says nothing about quality or significance. ¶ Ariadavid: The question itself however tenuous is nonetheless relevant. Is it not? Yes, self-evidently, any question about VN -- whether perceptive, important, minor, fringe, or batshit insane -- is relevant to VN. Mere relevance isn't enough. ¶ So again, which people of the knowledge and stature of, say, Boyd, Parker, Johnson, Alexandrov, Wood, Tammi, Diment, Barabtarlo, Karlinsky, Shapiro, Couturier take Centerwall's stuff seriously? -- Hoary (talk) 01:19, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
  • No I was not aware of VN's opinion of Field until I just recently received a copy of Michael Maar's Speak Nabokov. It's a rather interesting little read and it also points out some points I have been trying to make here. Such as in in the introduction he states clearly
Among Nabokovians little is certain and scholars rarely agree

While there is no specific mention or rebuff of the Centerwall piece Maar does speak at length about the Field piece in relationship to the Boyd piece and notes that both might be seen as unreliable for polar opposite reasons and that their findings should be taken with a grain of salt. It reads and I quote

Paradoxically, Nabokov comes off better in this first biography than in the work of second more rigorous biographer, Brian Boyd. Why? Because Boyd is fair and benevolent, whereas Field is full of resentment... With Boyd one doesn't know for sure what he, gentleman that he is, might omit out of consideration for his subject; with Field on suspects he would use even the tiniest, most fragile thread to try to hang Nabokov. But especially regarding Nabokov's foibles, Field in fact has a sharp eye--and overall, his book remains worth reading despite its unreliability."

In addition to the Maar piece I also procured a copy of Boyd's latest VN study Stalking Nabokov which was published quite a few years after the Maar piece hoping to find maybe some commentary on any subject related here. There strangely isn't even a mention of Rukavishnikov in any of the 450 pages. There is no mention of the Centerwall piece either. As for the Maar piece the majority of the speculations on a history of sexual abuse primarily is featured in chapter 3 entitled 'Sodom'. Interestingly enough, in this chapter he also discredits the Morgan piece stating that while the conclusions and methodology used in her theories are interesting they nonetheless collapse due to her incorrect "deciphering" of what she has perceived as anagrams. He says and I quote

Unfortunately, Morgan loses credibility when she deciphers the name Adam Krug as an anagram of "mad Ruka," which, even leaving aside other reasons, cannot be correct because of the g is missing, and anagrams, like pregnancies, exist either completely or not at all.

Furthermore, the Chapter 'Sodom' does not simply draw deductions from the autobiographical text Speak Memory but also makes a thorough comparative analysis of nearly all of Nabokov's major works primarily focusing of course on Lolita, Pale Fire, Ada, Bend Sinister and even the more recent Original of Laura. To sum it up it basically surmises the emerging themes of homosexual doppelgangers, incest and rape. In the section entitled Trapp, trapp, trapp (pg 35) after previously discussing the depiction of uncle figures Maar goes into a discussion of comparisons between Lolita and Speak Memory and the the correlations between Humbert and Ruka stating similarities between fondling episodes in the novel and the autobiography. Maar also points out to the reader that Ruka left his entire estate to Vladimir. The text goes on to elucidate further on page 37 to references in "Solus Rex" regarding "impermissible abuses in the family". Maar then also points out that there is in fact an active discussion on the Internet Listserv NABOKOV-L on the rereading of Pale Fire and the incest themes in it. On page 38 Maar references Wood in his deducing of "the pederastic uncle" figure in Ada.

In the course of my internet researching of this topic I found a further source that I'm not sure how relevant it might be considered but it does make explicit mention of an "attraction" of VN's uncle towards him and draws a connection to the inheritance by what appears to be somewhat of "part time" historian living in Russia by the name of Lara Biyuts (sometimes spelled Biuts). Her piece the Jetsam is a collection of essays among which is one of homosexuality in relation to VN and his work. You can download it here if you like: Ariadavid (talk) 16:24, 19 March 2013 (UTC)


In the Berlin Years it says "Sirin means butterfly". As far as I know this is not true. Butterfly is ? (babochka). Sirin is probably taken from the Russian word (SYEH-riy) (, which means gray. This is interesting because gray appears throughout Nabokov's work as names, etc. I'm changing the article to reflect this (2/16/14) but my Russian is not that great so it's possible that this is an old translation of the word or somthing. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. -- Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:23, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

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Adding an article into the section "Further reading/Criticism" - inquiry

Hello fellow Wikipedians, I would like to add a reference (into the section Further reading) to a book chapter focusing on the presence of ornament and the wallpaper pattern in Nabokov´s work, especially in Pnin. Given the fact that it was recently published in a prestigious edited volume edited by Ian Christie and indexed by Web of Science, the chapter could be very helpful to anyone interested in Nabokov´s work and its visual aspects. Please let me know if I may do it. Here are the references:

Jirsa, Tomá? (2015). "Lost in Pattern: Rococo Ornament and Its Journey to Contemporary Art through Wallpaper". In: Where Is History Today? New Ways of Representing the Past. Eds. Marcel Arbeit, Ian Christie. Olomouc: Palacký University Press, pp. 101-119. WOS:000379450400009 --Scholarwhale (talk) 11:46, 13 July 2017 (UTC)

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Views on women writers

The article claims Nabokov "in the short story 'The Admiralty Spire' deplores the posturing, snobbery, antisemitism, and cutesiness he considered characteristic of Russian women authors".

The short story (spoilers alert!) is written as a letter to a novelist, in whose novel "The Admiralty Spire" the narrator recognizes himself and his romantic relationship as a young man sixteen years ago. The narrator claims that the novel, despite the author's male pen name, is actually written by a woman. He says the writing style makes it obvious, citing a few examples. He proceeds to compare episodes from the novel with his own recounting of the events, pointing out inconsistencies and taking occasional jabs at the novel's cliched and banal prose (very unfavorably contrasted with his own writing). The story concludes with him assuming that the novel is written, in fact, by his former love interest.

Nowhere in the story Nabokov makes this broad generalized statement about Russian women authors. He does point out a few stylistic features he sees as unique to mediocre women authors, making it abundantly clear that the addressee is one of them. Knowing Nabokov, he would say much the same things about mediocre male writers, only with a different set of cliches. He never speaks of anything "characteristic of Russian women authors". Also, there is no word about their purported snobbery and antisemitism. ....added on 25 January 2018 by ScalarField

Location for Completion of Lolita

The caption for the picture of the house at 957 East State St, Ithaca NY claims this is the location where Nabokov finished Lolita. The body of the article references Ashland, Oregon as the location citing a reference: Dodge, Dani (1999-09-01). "Flames eat torrid classic's Ashland connection: Nabokov put final touches on `Lolita' in now-ruined house". Mail Tribune.

I propose removing the statement from the picture capture about home in Ithaca. Any comments? DutchTreat (talk) 10:24, 21 February 2018 (UTC)

Who he influenced

Jhumpa Lahiri,[80] Marisha Pessl,[81] Maxim D. Shrayer,[82] Zadie Smith,[83] and Ki Longfellow[84] have also acknowledged Nabokov's influence.

Uh-huh. Let's go through this in a bit more detail:

[[Jhumpa Lahiri]],<ref>[ "The Hum Inside the Skull, Revisited"], ''The New York Times'', 16 January 2005. Retrieved 12 April 2008.</ref>

Here, Jhumpa Lahiri writes about her work. And this is what she says:

There are other writers whose influence I seek: Tolstoy, Chekhov, Nabokov, Richard Yates, Andre Dubus, Alice Munro and James Salter, to name a few. But none have marked me as much as Trevor and Gallant.

So Nabokov hardly stands out; also, this is just her own say-so.

[[Marisha Pessl]],<ref>[ "An interview with Marisha Pessl"],, September 2006. Retrieved 15 June 2007.</ref>

This one is OK.

[[Maxim D. Shrayer]],<ref>Maxim D. Shayer, "Literature Is Love," in ''Waiting for America: A Story of Emigration'', 2007, pp. 178-85.</ref>

I haven't seen this. I note that it's Shrayer who's writing about Shrayer. Shouldn't we have an independent source for influence?

[[Zadie Smith]],<ref>[,5917,861678,00.html "Zadie Smith"] ''[[The Guardian]]''. Retrieved 12 April 2008.</ref>

Here's what this piece says:

Of the classics, Smith admires Nabokov, EM Forster, Zora Neale Hurston; in contemporary writing, she has allied herself with young Americans such as Dave Eggers. The influence most commonly cited in reviews is Salman Rushdie; stylistically, some passages in The Autograph Man came on like Martin Amis.

"Admires" is not the same as "is influenced by".

and [[Ki Longfellow]]<ref>''[[Woman's Hour]]'', a long-lived and popular English radio show, 1993.</ref> have also acknowledged Nabokov's influence.

Very feeble sourcing at best.

I propose to replace the (purposely?) vague "also acknowledged Nabokov's influence" with "been influenced by Nabokov", and to delete mention of all of these people except Pessl. -- Hoary (talk) 23:56, 29 July 2018 (UTC)

PS At least one of the five writers listed in the quote at the start of this section is held in high esteem. But at least one is pretty obscure (though written up with remarkable energy in English-language Wikipedia). If they were all (more or less) celebrated writers, then one might take seriously their acknowledgement of this or that writer's influence. As it is, however, there's a suspicion that the vigorous biographer of the later writer is aiming at incoming links, reflected glory, etc. -- Hoary (talk) 00:38, 30 July 2018 (UTC)

As indicated above, I've deleted mention of all these people other than Pessl. (But this is only the final part of one paragraph: what precedes it might be just as dodgy, but I haven't started to investigate.) -- Hoary (talk) 10:36, 31 July 2018 (UTC)

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