My first intention was to write an elaborate paper on this
TriQuarterly  number  (17,  Winter  1970,   Northwestern
University, Evanston, Illinois) which is dedicated to me on the
occasion  of  my seventieth birthday. I soon realized, however,
that I might find myself  discussing  critical  studies  of  my
fiction,  something  I  have  always  avoided  doing.  True,  a
festschrift is a very special and rare occasion for  that  kind
of  sport,  but  I  did not wish to create even the shadow of a
precedent and therefore decided simply  to  publish  the  rough
jottings  I  made  as  an objective reader anxious to eliminate
slight factual errors of which such a marvelous  gift  must  be
free;  for  I  knew  what pains the editors, Charles Newman and
Alfred Appel, had taken to prepare it and remembered how firmly
the guest co-editor, when collecting the  ingredients  of  this
great  feast,  refused  to  show  me  any  plum or crumb before

     Butterflies are among the  most  thoughtful  and  touching
contributions  to this volume. The old-fashioned engraving of a
Catagramma-like insect is delightfully reproduced twelve
times so as to suggest a double series or "block" of  specimens
in a cabinet case; and there is a beautiful photograph of a Red
Admirable (but "Nymphalidae" is the family to which it belongs,
not  its  genus,  which  is  Vanessa--  my  first bit of

     Mr. Appel, guest co-editor, writes about my two main works
of fiction. His  essay  "Backgrounds  of  Lolita"  is  a
superb example of the rare case where art and erudition meet in
a  shining ridge of specific information (the highest and to me
most acceptable function of literary criticism). I  would  have
liked to say more about his findings but modesty (a virtue that
the  average reviewer especially appreciates in authors) denies
me that pleasure.
     His other piece in this precious collection is "Ada
Described."  I  planted  three  blunders,  meant  to   ridicule
mistranslations  of Russian classics, in the first paragraph of
my Ada: the opening sentence of Anna Karenin  (no
additional  "a,"  printer,  she  was not a ballerina) is turned
inside out; Anna Arkadievna's patronymic is given  a  grotesque
masculine  ending;  and the title of Tolstoy's family chronicle
has been botched by the invented Stoner or Lower (I  must  have
received  at  least  a  dozen  letters  with clarifications and
corrections from indignant or puzzled readers, some of them  of
Russian  origin,  who  never  read  Ada beyond the first
page). Furthermore, in the  same  important  paragraph,  "Mount
Tabor"    and    "Pontius"    allude    respectively   to   the
transfigurations  and  betrayals  to  which  great  texts   are
subjected  by pretentious and ignorant versionists. The present
statement is an amplification of Mr.  Appel's  remarks  on  the
subject  in  his  brilliant  essay  "Ada  Described."  I
confess that his piece was a great pleasure to  read,  but  one
error  in  it I really must correct: My Baltic Baron is totally
and emphatically unrelated to Mr. Norman Mailer, the writer.

     Mr. Karlinsky's "N. and  Chekhov"  is  a  very  remarkable
essay,  and  I  greatly appreciate being with A. P. in the same
boat-- on a Russian lake, at sunset, he fishing, I watching the
hawkmoths above the water. Mr. Karlinsky has put his finger  on
a  mysterious  sensory  cell.  He  is  right, I do love Chekhov
dearly. I fail, however, to rationalize my feeling for  him:  I
can easily do so in regard to the greater artist, Tolstoy, with
the  flash  of  this  or that unforgettable passage (". . . how
sweetly she said: "and even very much'  "--  Vronsky  recalling
Kitty's  reply  to  some  trivial  question that we shall never
know), but when I imagine Chekhov with the same detachment  all
I  can  make  out is a medley of dreadful prosaisms, ready-made
epithets, repetitions,  doctors,  unconvincing  vamps,  and  so
forth;  yet it is his works which I would take on a trip
to another planet.
     In another article-- on "N.'s Russified  Lewis  Carroll"--
the   same   critic   is   much  too  kind  to  my  Anya  in
Wonderland (1924). How much better I  could  have  done  it
fifteen  years  later! The only good bits are the poems and the
word-play. I find an odd blunder in the  "Song  of  the  Soup":
lohan'^  kind  of  bucket) is misspelt by me and twisted
into the wrong gender. Incidentally, I had not (and still  have
not)  seen  any  other  Russian  versions  of  the book (as Mr.
Karlinsky suggests I may have had)  so  that  my  sharing  with
Poliksena  Solovyov the same model for one of the parodies is a
coincidence. I recall with pleasure that one of  the  accidents
that prompted Wellesley College to engage me as lecturer in the
early  forties  was  the presence of my rare Anya in the
Wellesley collection of Lewds Carroll editions.

     Mr. Alter's essay on the "Art of Politics in Invitation
to a Beheading" is a most brilliant reflection of that book
in a reader's mind. It is practically flawless so  that  all  I
can add is that I particularly appreciated his citing a passage
from The Gift "that could serve as a useful gloss on the
entire  nature  of  political and social reality in the earlier

     Mr. Hyman in his first-rate piece "The  Handle"  discusses
Invitation  to a Beheading and Bend Sinister, the
two book-ends  of  grotesque  design  between  which  my  other
volumes  tightly  huddle. I am a great admirer of Ransom's poem
about Captain Carpenter aptly mentioned by Mr. Hyman.

     I must point out two fascinating little  mistakes  in  Mr.
Stuart's   very   interesting  "Laughter  in  the  Dark:
Dimensions of Parody": (1) The film  in  which  my  heroine  is
given  a small part in the 1920s has nothing to do with Garbo's
Anna Karenina (of which incidentally I  have  only  seen
stills);  but  what I would like my readers to brood over is my
singular power of prophecy, for the name of  the  leading  lady
(Dorianna  Karenina)  in  the  picture  invented  by me in 1928
prefigured that of the actress (Anna Karina) who  was  to  play
Margot  forty  years  later  in  the  film  Laughter  in the
Dark, and (2) Mr. Stuart cleverly toys with the  idea  that
Albert  Albinus  and  Axel  Rex  are "doubles," one of his main
clues being that Margot finds  Albinus'  telephone  number  not
under  "A" but under "R" in the directory. Actually that "R" is
a mere slip or type (the initial corresponds correctly  to  the
man's  name in the first English-language edition of the novel,
London, 1936).

     Mr. Steiner's article  ("Extraterritorial")  is  built  on
solid  abstractions  and opaque generalizations. A few specific
items can be made out and  should  be  corrected.  He  absurdly
overestimates  Oscar Wilde's mastery of French. It is human but
a little cheap on his part to chide my Van Veen for sneering at
my  Lolita   (which,   in   a   transfigured   form,   I
magnanimously  turned  over  to a transposed fellow author); it
might be wiser for him to read Ada more  carefully  than
did the morons whom he rightly condemns for having dismissed as
hermetic  a  writer's limpid and precise prose. To one piece of
misinformation I must strongly object: I never belonged to  the
"haute  bourgeoisie"  to  which  he  grimly  assigns  me
(rather like that Marxist reviewer of my  Speak,  Memory
who  classified  my  father  as  a  "plutocrat"  and  a "man of
affairs"!). The Nabokovs have been soldiers and  squires  since
(at least) the fifteenth century.

     In  her  otherwise  impeccable  little piece "Spring in
Fialta: The Choice that Mimics Chance," Mrs. Barbara Monter
makes a slight bibliographic mistake. She implies that I  wrote
the  Russian  original  of  the  story sometime around 1947, in
America. This is not so. It was written at least a dozen  years
earlier,  in Berlin, and was first published in Paris ("Vesna v
Fial'te," Sovremennyya Zapiski, 1936) long before  being
collected  in  the  Chekhov  House edition, New York, 1956. The
English translation (by  Peter  Pertzov  and  me)  appeared  in
Harper's Bazaar, May, 1947.

     I  am  not sure that Mr. Leonard has quite understood what
Van Veen means by his "texture of time" in the penultimate part
of Ada. First of all, whatever I may have said in an old
interview, it is not the entire novel but only  that  one  part
(as  Alfred  Appel correctly points out elsewhere) in which the
illustrative metaphors, all  built  around  one  viatic  theme,
gradually accumulate, come to life, and form a story turning on
Van's  ride  from  the  Grisons to the Valais-- after which the
thing again disintegrates and reverts to abstraction on a  last
night  of  solitude in a hotel in Vaud. In other w'-ords, it is
all a structural trick: Van's theory of time has  no  existence
beyond  the  fabric of one part of the novel Ada. In the
second place, Mr. Leonard has evidently  not  grasped  what  is
meant  by  "texture"; it is something quite different from what
Proust called "lost time," and  it  is  precisely  in  everyday
life,  in  the  waiting-rooms  of  life's  stations that we can
concentrate on the "feeling"  of  time  and  palpate  its  very
texture. I also protest against his dragging "Antiterra," which
is  merely an ornamental incident, into a discussion whose only
rightful field is Part Four  and  not  the  entire  novel.  And
finally  I  owe  no  debt  whatsoever  (as Mr. Leonard seems to
think) to the famous Argentine essayist and his rather confused
compilation "A New Refutation of Time." Mr. Leonard would  have
lost less of it had he gone straight to Berkeley and Bergson.

     In Miss Berberov's excellent article on Pale Fire I
find a  couple of minute mistakes: Kinbote begs "dear Jesus" to
relieve him of his fondness  for  faunlets,  not  to  cure  his
headache, as she implies; and Professor Pnin, whose presence in
that  novel  Miss  Berberov  overlooks,  does  appear in
person (note to line 949, Pale Fire), with his dog.  She
is  much  better,  however, at delineating the characters in my
novels than in describing V. Sirin, one  of  my  characters  in
"real"  life.  In  her  second article, on "N. in the Thirties"
(from her recent memoirs, The  Italics  Are  Mine),  she
permits  herself bizarre inaccuracies. T may be absentminded, I
may be too frank about my literary tastes, okay,  but  I  would
like  Miss  Berberov to cite one specific instance of my having
read a hook that I had never read.  In  my  preface  (June  25,
1959)  to  the  English-language  edition of Invitation to a
Beheading I have more to say about that kind  of  nonsense.
Then  there is a sartorial detail in her memoir that I must set
straight. Never did I possess, in Paris or elsewhere, "a tuxedo
Rachmaninov had given [me]." I had not met  Rachmaninov  before
leaving  France for America in 1940. He had twice sent me small
amounts of money, through friends, and I was eager now to thank
him in person. During our first meeting at his flat on West End
Avenue, I mentioned I had been invited to teach  summer  school
at  Stanford. On the following day I got from him a carton with
several items of obsolete clothing, among  which  was  a
cutaway  (presumably  tailored  in  the period of the Prelude),
which he hoped-- as he said in a kind  little  note--  1  would
wear  for my first lecture. I sent back his well-meant gift but
(gulp of mea culpa!) could not resist telling one or two
people about it. Half a dozen years later, w-hen Miss  Berberov
migrated  to  New  York  in  her  turn, she must have heard the
anecdote from one of our common friends, Karpovich or Kerenski,
after  which  a  quarter  of  a  century  elapsed,  or   rather
collapsed,   and   somehow,   in  her  mind,  the  cutaway  was
transformed into a "tuxedo" and transferred to an  earlier  era
of  my  life.  I doubt that I had any occasion in Paris, in the
thirties, when the short series of  my  brief  encounters  with
Miss  Berberov took place, to wear my old London dinner jacket;
certainly not for that dinner  at  L'Ours  (with  which,
incidentally,    the    "Ursus"    of    Ada   and   the
Med'ved'of St. Petersburg have nothing to do); anyway, I
do not sec how any of my clothes  could  have  resembled
the  doubly  anachronistic  hand-me-down in which the memoirist
rigs me out. How much kinder she is to my books!

     The multicolored inklings offered  by  Mr.  Lubin  in  his
"Kickshaws  and Motley" are absolutely dazzling. Such things as
his ""v ugloo" [Russ. for "in the corner"] in the  igloo
of  the  globe [a blend of "glow" and "strobe"] are better than
anything I have done in that line. Very beautifully  he  tracks
down  to  their  lairs  in  Eliot three terms queried by a poor
little  person  in  Pale  Fire.  I  greatly  admire  the
definition  of tmesis (Type ) as a "semantic petticoat slipped
on between the naked noun and its clothing epithet," as well as
Lubin's  "proleptic"  tmesis   illustrated   by   Shakespeare's
glow-worm  beginning  "to  pale  his ineffectual fire." And the
parody  of  an  interview  with  N.  (though  a   little   more
exquisitely  iridized  than  my own replies would have been) is
sufficiently convincing to catch readers.

     The extent to which I was concerned with the fragility  of
my  English at the time of my abandoning Russian in 1939 may be
gauged by the fact that even after Mrs. Lon had gone over  the
manuscript  of my Sebastian Knight in Paris where it was
written, and I had moved to the USA, I  begged  the  late  Anes
Perkins,  the  admirable  Head  of  the  English  Department at
Wellesley, to assist me in reading  the  galleys  of  the  book
(bought  for  $150 in 1941, by New Directions), and that later,
another kind lady, Sylvia Berkman, checked the  grammar  of  my
first  English  stories that appeared in The Atlantic in
the early forties.
     I am sorry  that  Lucie  Lon  in  her  amiably  modulated
"Playback"  does  not  speak  more than she does of her brother
Alex Ponizovski of whom I was very fond  (I  particularly  like
recalling the streak of quiet eccentricity that endeared him to
fellow  students  at  Cambridge,  such  as the time he casually
swallowed the contents of a small bottle of ink  that  happened
to be within reach while we sat and talked by the fire). In her
account  of  a  dinner  with  James  Joyce in Paris, I found it
refreshing to be  accused  of  bashfulness  (after  finding  so
frequently  in  the gazettes complaints of my "arrogance"); but
is her impression correct? She pictures me  as  a  timid  young
artist;  actually  I  was  forty,  with  a  sufficiently  lucid
awareness of what  I  had  already  done  for  Russian  letters
preventing  me  from feeling awed in the presence of any living
writer. (Had Mrs. Lon and  met  more  often  at  parties  she
might  have  realized  that  I am always a disappointing guest,
neither inclined nor able to shine socially.)
     Another little  error  occurs  in  the  reference  to  the
palindrome  that  I  wrote  in her album. There was nothing new
about a reversible sentence in Russian: the anonymous sandglass
"a roza upala na lapu Azora"' ("and the rose  fell  upon
Azor's paw") is as familiar to children as, in another nursery,
"able  was I ere I saw Elba." The first line of my Kazak
is, in fact, not mine (T think it was given  me  by  the
late  Vladimir Piotrovski, a wonderfully skillful poet); what I
claimed was new referred to my expanding the palindrome into  a
rhymed  quatrain  with  its three last verses making continuous
sense in spite of each being reversible.

     Curiously enough, the note appended to my Kazak  by
lrwin   Well  (who  contributes  an  interesting  essay  on  my
"Odyssey" elsewhere in the volume)  also  requires  correction.
His  statement  that  "the  third  and  fourth  lines  are each
palindromes if one excludes the last [?]  syllables"  is  quite
wong;  all four lines are palindromes, and no "last syllables"
have to be  excluded.  Especially  regrettable  is  Mr.  Well's
mistranslation of one of them. He has confused the Russian word
for  aloes  (a  genus  of  plant) with aloe, which means
"red" or "rosy," and  that,  too,  is  mistranslated,  becoming
     I  must also question an incomprehensible statement in Mr.
Weil's article "Odyssey of a Translator." The Russian lawyer E.
M. Kulisher may well have been  "an  old  acquaintance"  of  my
father's,  but  he  was not "close to the Nabokov family" (I do
not remember him as a person) and I have  never  said  anywhere
what  Mr.  Weil has me indicate in the opening paragraph of his

     My old friend Morris Bishop (my only close friend  on  the
campus)  has  touched me very deeply by his recollections of my
stay at Cornell. I am assigning an entire chapter to it  in  my
Speak  On, Mnemosyne, a memoir devoted to the 20 years I
spent in my adopted country, after dwelling  for  20  years  in
Russia  and  for  as  many  more  in  Western Europe. My friend
suggests that I was bothered by the students'  incompetence  in
my  Pushkin class. Not at all. What bothered and angered me was
the ineptitude of  the  system  of  Scientific  Linguistics  at

     I  remember  most  of  the  best  students  in  my Cornell
classes. Mr. Wetzsteon was one of them. My "Bleak  House
diagram,"  which  he recalls so movingly, is preserved among my
papers and will appear in the collection of lectures  (Bleak
House,  Mansfield Park, Madame Bovary, etc.) that I mean to
publish some day. It is strange to think that never again shall
I feel between finger and thumb the cool smoothness  of  virgin
chalk  or  make  that  joke  about the "gray board" (improperly
wiped), and be rewarded by two or three chuckles (RW? AA? NS?).
     Mr. Moynahan in his charming  ^Lolita  and  Related
Memories" recalls his professor of Russian, the late Dr. Leonid
Strakhovski (most foreign-born lecturers used to be "doctors").
I  knew  him,  he  did  not  really resemble my Pnin. We met at
literary parties in Berlin half a century ago. He wrote  verse.
He  wore  a  monocle.  He  had  no  sense of humor. He dwelt in
dramatic detail on his military and civil adventures.  Most  of
his  yarns  had a knack of fading out at the critical point. He
had worked as a trolley car driver and had run over a man.  The
rowboat in which he escaped from Russia developed a leak in the
middle  of  the Baltic. When asked what happened then, he would
wave a  limp  hand  in  the  Russian  gesture  of  despair  and

     Ellendea  Proffer's  report  on my Russian readers is both
heartening and sad. "All  Soviet  age  groups,"  she  observes,
"tend  to  feel  that literature has a didactic function." This
marks a kind of dead end, despite a new generation of  talented
people.   "Zhalkiy   udel   (piteous   fate),"   as  the
Litera-turnaya Gazeta says    propos  de  bottes
(March 4, 1970).

     Several passages in Mr. Elkin's "Three Meetings," a parody
of an  "I  remember  . . ." piece, are extremely funny, such as
the farcical variety of repetition or the casual  reference  to
the "lovely eggal forms" he and I encountered on "an expedition
up the Orinoco." And our third meeting is a scream.

     Mr.   Hughes   in   his   "Notes  on  the  Translation  of
Invitation to a Beheadings is one of the few critics who
noticed  the  poetry  of  the  Tamara   terraces   with   their
metamorphosed tamaracks. In the trance of objectivity which the
reading  of the festschrift has now induced in me, I am able to
say that Mr. Hughes' discussion  of  the  trials  and  triumphs
attending that translation is very subtle and rewarding.

     Mr. Proffer, who discusses another translation, that of my
much older   Korol',   Dama,   Valet,   tackles  a  more
ungrateful task, first because King, Queen, Knave  "does
not  surmount  its  original  weaknesses," and secondly because
revision and adaptation blur one's interest in  faithfulnesses.
He  wonders  what "worse sins" (than planning the murder of his
uncle) cowardly and brutal Franz could have  committed  between
the  twenties  and  sixties  in Germany, but a minute's thought
should reveal to the reader what the activities of that type of
man could have been at the exact center of  the  interval.  Mr.
Proffer ends his "A New Deck for Nabokov's Knaves" by saving he
expects  the  English  version  of  Mashenka to be quite
different from the Russian original. Expectation has  been  the
undoing of many a shrewd gambler.

     I  had  read  and  hugely  enjoyed Mr. Scott's essay on my
EO  translation,  "The  Cypress  Veil,"  when  it  first
appeared in the Winter, 1965, issue of the TriQuarterly.
It is a most refreshing piece. My improved cab is now ready for
     Mr.  Scott  is  also  responsible for the last item in the
volume, a letter addressed by Tirnofey Pnin to "Many  respected
Professor  Apple [sic]," a stunning affair in which scholarship
and high spirits interlace to produce the monogram  of  a  very
special masterpiece. And that frozen frenzy of footnotes!

     There  is  magic  in  every  penstroke and curlicue of the
delightful diploma that Saul Steinberg has drawn  for  my  wife
and me.

     Mr.  Adams'  letter  about me addressed to "M. ie Baron dc
Stendhal" is an extremely witty piece-- reminding me, I do  not
know   why,   of  those  macabre  little  miracles  that  chess
problemists call suimates (White  forces  Black  to  win  in  a
certain number of moves).

     In Mr. Burgess' poem I particularly appreciate his Maltese
grocer's  cat that likes to sit upon the scales and is found to
weigh 2 rotolos.

     "Not even Colette," says Mr. Guerard  in  his  tribute  to
Ada,  "rendered  fleshly  textures  and  tones with such
grace." The lady is mentioned in Ada. 

     Blending fact and fiction in a kind of slat-sign  shimmer,
Mr.  Gold  recalls  our  meetings  in upstate New York and in a
Swiss hotel. I recall with pleasure my correspondence with  the
puzzled diteur of the Saturday Evening Postior which he
had written what I had thought was to be an interview with me--
or,  at  least,  with  the  person  I  usually  impersonate  in

     Mr. Howard's poem "Waiting for Ada" contains  a  wonderful
description  of  a  Grand Hotel du Miroir very like some of the
"nearly pearly nougat-textured art-nouveau" places where I have
been "working wickedly away" during  recent  sjours  in

     I am grateful to Mr. Updike for mentioning, in his stylish
tribute,  the  little  Parisian prostitute whom Humbert Humbert
recalls so wistfully. On the other hand there was no reason  at
all  for  that  harsh  and  contemptuous  reference  to a small
publishing house which brought out excellent editions  of  four
books of mine.

     Mr.  Dillard's  poem  "A  day,  a  country  home"  is most
attractive-- especially the "light  through  the  leaves,  like
butterflies" in the fourth stanza.

     Miss  Calisher's  contubernal  contribution expresses in a
sophisticated metaphor her readiness to share the  paranoia  of
her  fellow  writers.  Oddly  enough,  even  the  best  tent is
absolutely dependent on the kind of country amidst which it  is

     I  remember,  not  without  satisfaction, how fiercely and
frequently, during my last year of high school in Russia (which
was also the first year of the revolution), most of my teachers
and some of my schoolmates accused me of  being  a  "foreigner"
because  I  refused  to  join  in  political  declarations  and
demonstrations. Mr.  Ludwig  in  his  splendid  little  article
indicates  with  great  sympathy  and acumen the possibility of
similar accusations being made by my new fellow-citizens.  They
could  not  vie  with  Vladimir  Vasilievich Gippius, my fiery,
redhaired teacher of Russian literature.

     Dear Mr. B.:
     Thanks for your birthday greetings. Let me wish  you  many
returns  of  the same day. How many nice people crowd around my
cradle! It is pleasant to know you like Max  Planck.  I  rather
like him, too. But not Cervantes!
     Yours cordially,
     V. N.

     Lines  31-32  of  Mr.  Brown's fascinating poem in Russian
display a looping-the-loop inversion  of  which  old  Lomonosov
might  have been proud: "Why, better of Dante's Hell for him to
burn in  the  seventh  circle"  if  translated  lexically.  His
cartoons in a British weekly are marvelous.

     The editor of the TriQuarterly, in "Americanization
of V.  N."  (an  exhilarating  physical  process in the present
case!) recalls taking Pale Fire "to  Basic  Training  in
hot  Texas,"  tearing it from its binding, and keeping it "pure
and scrolled in my Fatigues' long pocket like  a  Bowie  knife"
safe  from  the Barracks Sergeant. It is a beautifully written,
and most touching, epic.

     Laughter in the Dark is paid a suitable tribute  in
Mr. Wagoner's sinister poem.

     I  like  the  epithets  "opulent,  triplicitous,"  in  Mr.
Stern's lines,  but  I  am  not  sure  that  any  of  the  four
Karamazovs   (grotesque,  humorless,  hysterical,  and  jejune,
respectively) can be defined as "triste."

     My  good  friend,  Mr.   Field,   has   contributed   some
brilliantly worded remarks, one of which refers to V.N.'s being
"counted  upon to observe the hoisting of his statue (Peter the
Great seated  upon  an  invisible  horse)."  This  reminded  me
suddenly  of  a  not-unsimilar  event  in California where some
fancy  statuary,  lovingly  erected  by  a  Russian  group   to
commemorate Pushkin's duel, partly disintegrated after a couple
of  years'  exposure,  removing  Pushkin but leaving intact the
figure of magnificent Dantes pointing his pistol at posterity.

     The "socio-political nature" of Mr.  Brewer's  tribute  to
Lolita,  far  from being repugnant to me (as he modestly
assumes), is more than redeemed by the  specific  precision  of
his artistic touch.

     In  his  "Advice  to  a  Young Writer," Mr. Shaw draws his
examples from the life,  labors,  and  luck  of  "Vladimir  N.,
perched  on  a  hill in Switzerland." To lrwin S., perched on a
not-too-distant hill, I send by Alpine Horn my best greetings.

     In a very pretty little  poem,  Mr.  Neugeboren  seems  to
rhyme,  somewhat  surprisingly,  "Nabokov"  and "love." I would
suggest "talk of" or "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

     Mr. Oilman's tribute to Ada comes at a time when  I
still think that of all my books it is the one that corresponds
most  exactly  to  its  fore-image; and therefore T cannot help
being affected by his kind words.

     Among my short stories, "Signs and Symbols" still  remains
an  old  favorite  of  mine.  I  am  happy that Mr. Elliott has
singled it out  for  comment  with  a  phrase  from  Ada
heading his pithy piece.

     A  final  splendid salute comes from one of my friendliest
readers. It ends on an emotional note which I inwardly  respond
to without being able to formulate my response with Mr. Kazin's
force and feeling.

     Written   on   March   10,  1970,  and  published  in  the
Supplement to TriQuarterly 77,  Northwestern  University
Press, 1970.

: 13, Last-modified: Sat, 25 Jul 1998 20:54:58 GmT