Gogol seen through the eyes of Nabokov









Vladimir Nabokov’s Nikolai Gogol was commissioned by James Laughlin, a young publisher descending from a wealthy family whose publishing company New Directions was focusing on works of high literary value which were not commercially successful [1]. Laughlin,who Nabokov and his wife met in 1941 by the agency of Edmund Wilson, was also to publish Nabokov`s first novel written in English, The real life of Sebastian Knight. Nabokov was working on  Nikolai Gogol  from 1941 to 43, in addition to numerous other activities (a lectureship at Wellesley, lecturing tours and a part-time appointment as an entomologist at Harvard). The book came out in 1944 in the Makers of Modern Literature series. In later years Nabokov spoke about it rather disparagingly, calling it “this little frivolous thing”, and he thought that it might have cost him the chair in Harvard[2]. Even so, the book can certainly be considered successful. It has greatly influenced the perception of Gogol in the English-speaking world, and the renowned Dutch Slavist Karel van het Reve too, has abundantly drawn from it for his chapter on Gogol  in his History of Russian Literature. In 1961 a new edition was published and another in 1973. The text in these later editions was not modified in any way, but Nabokov adjusted the transcription of Russian terms and names to the rules valid at the time. Moreover, he dropped the index containing a number of  jokes and so-called writing errors. By doing so, he meant to make the book more palatable to academic readers. However, the implementation of these adjustments was not entirely logical, leading to quite a few anomalies.[3] (Remarkably enough, the index  is mentioned  in the table of contents in the 1971 edition  – Index 165 –  but cannot be found in the book, which finishes on p.164. Done by mistake or deliberately?).  Nikolai Gogol  is based on the lectures on Gogol published in 1981 as part of the Lectures on Russian Literature. In the monography, the discussion of  the drama The Government Inspector is added to the discussion of  Dead Souls and The Overcoat  in the  Lectures.



Poetics, Ideal Reader


Perhaps even more clearly than in Nabokov`s other lectures on literature the writer’s own poetics and his description of the ideal reader is the main topic in this book. Nabokov’s opinion on this subject cannot be formulated more clearly than in this book: true art is non-normative, deceptive, magic, irrational, and does not have a message nor does it propagate social criticism. And it takes a creative reader to value it properly. Discussing a passage from Dead Souls, Nabokov writes:

Several years ago during a Rugby game in England I saw the wonderful Obolensky kick the ball away on the run and  then changing his mind, plunge forward and catch it back with his hands… something of this kind of feat is performed by Nikolai Vassilievich.[4] [83]

The author should be like a sportsman chatching his own ball, a kind of magician then, misleading his audience.

In the chapter called ‘The Apotheosis of a Mask’ devoted to Gogol’s narrative The Overcoat Nabokov is even much more provocative. Having discussed the plot of the narrative in six lines, the writer continues as follows:

In order to appreciate it at its true worth one must perform a kind of mental somersault so as to get rid of conventional values in literature and follow the author along the dream road of superhuman imagination. Gogol’s world is somewhat related to such conceptions of modern physics as the “Concertina Universe”or the “Explosion Universe”; it is far removed from the comfortably revolving clockwork worlds of the last century. There is a curvature in literary style as there is curvature in space – but few are the Russian readers who do care to plunge into Gogol’s magic chaos head first, with no restraint or regret. [144]


Not every reader is able to perform this mental somersault. Not the reader, in any case, who thinks Turgenev was a great writer. …’ But the diver, the seeker for black pearls, the man who prefers the monsters of the deep tot the sunshades on the beach, will find in The Overcoat shadows linking our state of existence to those other states and modes which we dimly apprehend in our rare moments of irrational perception.’ [146/147]

In his introduction to the chapter he is already speaking about the reader who is able to understand great literature.

The superficial reader of that story (i.e. The Overcoat. AL) will merely see in it the heavy frolics of an extravagant buffoon; the solemn reader will take for granted that Gogol’s prime intention was to denounce the horrors of Russian bureaucracy. But neither the person who wants a good laugh, nor the person who craves for books “that make one think” will understand what The Overcoat really is about. Give me the creative reader: this is a tale for him.[141/142]


It is not the reader looking for jokes, nor the reader expecting a social indictment, but the creative reader, whoever that may be. The general reader is warned to keep out of Gogol’s way.  ‘Keep off the tracks, high tension, closed for the duration!’



Literary engagement


In a letter to George R. Noyes dated  24 October 1945 Nabokov, referring to his newly published Gogol monography writes:

I never meant to deny the moral impact of art which is certainly inherent in every genuine work of art. What I do deny and am prepared to fight to the last drop of my ink is the deliberate moralizing which to me kills every vestige of art in a work however skilfully written. There is a deep morality in the Overcoat which I have tried to convey in my book, but this morality has certainly nothing whatever to do with the cheap political propaganda which some overzealous admirers in nineteenth century Russia have tried to squeeze out of, or rather into it, and which, in my opinion does violence to the story and to the very notion of art. [5]


This viewpoint is Nabokov’s pet topic throughout his discussions of  literature, be it Russian or foreign. Social commitment, if any, must never be expressed directly, explicitly, or show on the surface of the text, as this would inevitably kill the work of art. This does not, however, suggest that a work of art is immoral or apolitical, on the contrary, on a ‘deeper level’ moral views or social visions can be spread in a much more probing way. It seems as if Nabokov is over and over again settling scores with the ghosts of his youth. At the close of the nineteenth century an aggressive ‘progressivism’ prevailed in Russian literary criticism. The value of every single work of art was solely based on its contribution to the fight of the oppressed for a better social position. The fates of farmers, exploited workers, oppressed chambermaids or servants, should provide the material of which  literature was made. The tone for this was already set in the eighteen-forties by the prominent critic Vissarion Belinsky (1811-1848). Belinski was the first in a long line of  ‘radical’ literary critics who tried to force Russian literature in an increasingly hard-handed manner up the road they deemed to be absolutely right. However, not all writers were equally meek sheep. Without exaggerating greatly, a large part of  Dostoyevsky’s oeuvre can be considered  a single great polemic against these critics (N.B. the very Dostoyevsky who Nabokov did not think much of),  and also Turgenev, Tolstoy and Chekhov have now and then taken a beating. In the first few decades of the twentieth century, when Nabokov was growing up in Russia, the influence of these radicals was waning, due in part to the emergence of  movements like symbolism, acmeism and futurism , which stood for a much more esthetic understanding of art, but it was still to be felt for a long time. Not surprisingly, Maksim Gorky, whose works  complied with the demands of the radical critics in every respect, was one of the most popular writers of the period. In the nineteen-thirties Gorky became the flagship of the new Soviet literature, i.e.  socialist realism.

Obviously, socially-committed literature was not a purely Russian phenomenon, but the demand for social commitment has not been as imperative for such a long time anywhere else. And there is not a country to be found in which so many writers ( first of all Dostoyevsky, see above) have opposed  this trend in literature as explicitly or implicitly. So Nabokov is just one in a long line.

Nabokov is demonstrating his opposition most clearly in the fourth chapter of his novel The Gift (1938), covering nearly a hundred pages. This is Nabokov’s last and most voluminous novel written in Russian, the central figure of which, Cherdyncev, feels called upon to write a biography of Chernyshevsky, the successor of Belinsky and the most radical critic of the eighteen-sixties. It is a superb and moving portrait, which is among the best written about this tragic figure, and it is obviously Cherdyncev’s getting even with his youth. The conclusion that this can also be said of the author of this book does not seem far-fetched.





‘In The Gift Nabokov initiated his method of hybridizing his fictional narratives with scholarly literary genres, such as biography, annotation and literary history, a method that was later developed and expanded in Pale Fire, Ada, Look at the Harlequins as well as in the Onegin commentary’, Karlinsky[6] writes in his introduction to the Nabokov-Wilson Letters.  This list does not include Nikolai Gogol, but is this appropriate? The book is usually presented as a biography, which, in this case, is not embedded in a fictional narrative, as in the works mentioned above.  And as such it is often regarded and used as a source of information about the life and work of the nineteenth-century Russian writer Nikolay Gogol.

But it is a very unusual biography, beginning with the death of the principal character and finishing with his birth. A biograpy disclosing hardly anything about his parents, his origin, the environment in which he grew up; in which just three works are discussed in detail, while the rest of the oeuvre is dismissed as unsuccessful and uninteresting; in which the author’s ego is nearly as important as the subject of the book, and in which the ego itself  is presented as a character in conversation with the publisher in the last chapter, (this is quite similar to the way in which the narrator suddenly appears in the last chapter of the fictional, be it slightly autobiographical Pnin); which includes an appendix with a chronology of  Gogol’s life, full of odd jokes, and an index which seems to be a parody of the genre, and which  does not include a bibliography nor an acknowledgement of sources.


Let us begin with the latter. On page 76 there is a reference to  Andrey Bely’s Masterstvo Gogolja (Gogol’s mastery) and in the last few lines of the last chapter, the conversation between the author and his publisher, the author mentions almost casually ‘Veressaiev’s delightful biography of Gogol (1933, in Russian).’[155] In the  Chronology the same author is mentioned again, this time together with the title of his book: Gogol v Zhisni, Moscow-Leningrad 1933.

What strikes one most  – not just here but in numerous other passages in the book – is Nabokov’s using an odd transcription of Russian names and words. In Russian the name ‘Veresayev’ is spelt with a single s. And the title of the book is spelt Gogol v zhizni instead of  v Zhisni in the English transcription already widely used at the time. In other words too,  Nabokov often uses a double s, while there is just a single one officially. Thus Gogol’s patronymicum is in Nabokov’s book spelt asVassilievich instead of  Vasilievich. On one occasion the doubling of a consonant is distinctly functional: the name of one of the radical nineteenth-century critics Nabokov regards as black sheep is spelt Pissarev instead of  the correct Pisarev.

Veresayev’s book, which in fact is not a proper biography but a large collection of testimonies given by Gogol’s contemporaries, completed with passages from Gogol’s own letters arranged in chronlogical order, resulting in a fascinating picture of the writer’s life, would have deserved to have been mentioned more prominently. Not  ‘most of my facts are taken from the same convenient work’, as the author says to  his publisher [155] , but all of them. First of all the detailed description of Gogol’s death at the beginning of the book. As a matter of fact all biographical information on Gogol, complete with hilarious facts, e.g. Gogol’s mother thinking that her son had invented the steam engine, has been borrowed, quite often almost verbatim, from Veresayev’s standard work. The same also goes for all quotations from Gogol’s letters. Nabokov has mercilessly ransacked this book, and he got away with it, because in 1944 only a handful of people spoke Russian in the United States  and Veresayev’s work was virtually unknown at the time.

However, Nabokov’s selection from the plentiful material is very biased. Gogol is portrayed as a completely maladjusted, impossible and distasteful character with greasy hair, a protruding nose; telling lies to his mother and borrowing money from his friends, regaling them later with sermons and lectures on life; a religious maniac, unable of  having normal relations with anyone, and who was really a kind of shadow throughout his life. Nabokov brings out the sharp contrast between Gogol the human being, about whom he has nothing positive to say, and the three immortal works he has created (as well as all sorts of failures) and which are some of the best, most original and most profound books in world literature.

And admittedly, it can all be read in Veresayev, this is one side of the writer, which was to become increasingly more dominant towards the end of his life, but it is not the entire Gogol. Those reading Veresayev unbiased get a completely different picture of Gogol the man. True enough, he has written a number of completely deceitful and pathetic letters to his mother, but by far the biggest part are actually most charming: a loving son relinquishing any claim on the (fairly modest) family fortune for the benefit of his sisters, answering all the well-meaning remarks and suggestions of his not too bright mother with the patience of a saint and, now and then , with a trace of irony. The same picture emerges from the testimonies of his friends and from people who knew him well in Petersburg, Moscow, Rome or in other places. Gogol could also be a very socially-minded man, by no means unworldly, who loved good food  and could beautifully recite passages from his own work. The account of an eyewitness describing Pushkin laughing himself silly during Gogol’s own reading of  The Government Inspector is by no means a myth, as Nabokov is dismissing many positive voices about his subject, but as plausible as any negative stories brought up about him. What Nabokov is doing in  Nikolai Gogol is trying to distill from the very diverse and contradictory material not an objective portrait, as a true  biographer should do, but to construct a negative hero, as a writer of fiction does,  in order to draw attention to the story.


‘This book on Gogol will be something new  from beginning to end: I disagree with the bulk of Russian critics of Gogol and use no sources except Gogol himself’Nabokov writes in a letter to his publisher on 16 July 1942[7]. But it is not as simple as that.

In the less biographical chapters too, in which The Government Inspector, Dead Souls and  The Overcoat are discussed successively, Nabokov has been inspired by others. The view that Gogol’s work is primarily realistic and meant as a social indictment against bureaucracy, serfdom and the life of  petty officials has been contradicted long before Nabokov,  among others by Andrey Bely in his above-mentioned book, published in the Soviet Union in 1934, and by Boris Eichenbaum, one of the leaders of the formalists, in his classic article ‘Kak sdelana Shinel’ Gogolja’ (How Gogol’s Overcoat is made), published in 1919. Both Bely and Eichenbaum already pointed to the way in which Gogol is playing with sound, is composing his stories, to the use of numerous particles, on the face of it out of place, such as ‘even’, ‘yet’, and to the remarkable non sequiturs in his narratives, due to which the story is getting highly absurdist. Nabokov is tying in with this and with the ardour of the true convert he denies Gogol any realism whatsoever. His message is that Gogol hardly knew Russia and did not show any interest in it, he was a writer creating a world of his own.

Gogol’s heroes merely happen to be Russian squires and officials; their imagined surroundings and social conditions are perfectly unimportant factors – just as Monsieur Homais might be a business man in Chicago or Mrs. Bloom the wife of a schoolmaster in Vyshny-Volochok. Moreover, their surroundings and conditions, whatever they might have been in “real life,” underwent such a thorough permutation and reconstruction in the laboratory of Gogol’s peculiar genius that (…) it is as useless to look in Dead Souls for an authentic Russian background as it would be to try and form a conception of Denmark on the basis of that little affair in cloudy Elsinor. [71]


It is a good example of  Nabokov’s extreme beliefs and exuberant style.  The purport of this quotation can be objected to, however, as it is hard to imagine Sobakevich living in Yorkshire or Friesland. What is interesting about Gogol is precisely his unparalleled mixing the realistic with the absurd and the grotesque. It is not without reason that he was considered a realist by so many. His world looks deceptively like the real one, but it is not, just. It may be due to this that his stories have such a distressing effect on the reader: there is not another writer to be found who has drawn such a fragile line between reality and nightmare.



Nabokov’s own ideas


Nabokov’s focusing his attention on the ‘background characters’, especially in  The Government Inspector and Dead Souls, at the other hand, as far as I have been able to verify,  really is original. Nabokov is the first to point to Gogol’s inimitable way of continually introducing characters with name, surname and an abundance of details, who are not mentioned again in the rest of the narrative.

A  famous playwright has said that if in the first act a shot gun hangs on the wall, it must go off in the last act. But Gogol’s guns hang in midair and do not go off – in fact the charm of his allusions is exactly that nothing whatever comes of them. [44]


In doing so, Gogol, in addition to the reality of the actual narrative, creates a second reality of shadow figures, existing only in the stories of his protagonists. ‘This secondary world, bursting as it were through the background of the play, is Gogol’s true kingdom.’ [52]

‘The famous playwright’ is, incidentally, Chekhov and it is typical of Nabokov, the great mystifier, not to mention the name, as if he meant to test the reader’s expert knowledge.

Nabokov’s discussion of  The Government Inspector and Dead Souls largely consists of a list of all these shadow figures along with Nabokovian commentary. Apart from emphasising the unrealistic nature of Gogol’s world, this is the most important point made about the oeuvre..

In the chapter on Dead Souls another important point is made, i.e. that of  poshlust, to which notion Nabokov devotes eleven pages. ‘Poshslost’, as transcribed officially, is a normal Russian expression for which there is no appropriate equivalent in either English, Dutch or German. In linguistics, words without an equivalent in another language are a well-known phenomenon, one every translator has quite often to deal with. But  Nabokov puts on a proper show paraphrasing this little word because to him it embodies the essence of  Gogol’s oeuvre in general and of Dead Souls in particular. In English ‘poshlost’ can be described by words like ‘trivial’, ‘vulgar’, ‘Kitsch’, ‘gross’, ‘cheap sentiment’ and so on. According to Nabokov,  the world described in Dead Souls can be typified by this one word. A felicitous characterization, since one of the most striking features of this book is the complete lack of any elevated thought whatsoever entertained by the characters of this book,  all of whom, first of all the leading figure, Chichikov, with his preference for shiny red suits, are completely ‘poshly’, vulgar, gross, and trivial.





In the letter to his publisher, James Laughlin,  already quoted above, Nabokov apologises for being late in handing in the manuscript.

What causes the irritating delay is the fact that I have to translate every scrap of quotation myself: most of the Gogol material (letters, articles etc.) is not translated at all, and the rest so abominably botched that I cannot use it. I have lost a week already translating passages I need in the “Inspector General” as I can do nothing with Constance Garnett’s dry shit.[8]


And he ends his letter sighing ‘The enervating part is that the translations of Gogol I have to make require another section of the brain than the text of my book and switching from one to another by means of spasmodic jumps causes a kind of mental asthma.[9]

The appalling English translations of the work of Gogol are, in addition to the points mentioned  above, another recurring topic in Nabokov’s  paper. In the chapter on The Government Inspector, which in fact is called  ‘The Government Specter’, he puts it as follows:

I  sometimes think that these old English “translations” are remarkably similar to the so-called  Thousand Pieces Execution which was popular at one time in China. The idea was to cut out from the patient’s body one tiny square bit the size of a cough lozenge, say, every five minutes or so until bit by bit (all of them selected with discrimination so as to have the patient live tot the nine hundred ninety ninth piece) his whole body was delicately removed. [38/39]



And chapter 3, ‘Our Mr. Chichickov’ starts with Nabokov sighing: ‘The old translations of “Dead Souls” into English are absolutely worthless and should be expelled from all public and university libraries.’ [61]

It is a pity that Nabokov never did a complete translation of any of the works of Gogol discussed by him, since the various initiatives to do so taken in this book are promising  and might well have resulted in a breakthrough of the Anglo-Saxon culture of translation of  that time, the standard of which was pathetically low. It can safely be maintained that, to a certain extent , the book’s success is due to the translated fragments, from which a  witty,  ascerbic, absurdist Gogol  was emerging who had nothing in common with the one the English-speaking world had known until then.

Not just the quality of  Nabokov’s translations is striking, the same also goes for the quantity. Chapter 3, on Dead Souls, the longest chapter of the book, covers fifty-one pages. When added up,  the quotations account for roughly twenty-three pages, which is nearly half the chapter  In the other chapters it is not as much, but even the first, ‘His Death and his Youth’,  in which  hardly any works are discussed, includes the complete translation of a four-page letter written by Gogol to his mother.

The sum of  twenty-three pages of quotations and of twelve pages of  ‘posjlost’ is thirty-five pages, which,  at a total of fifty-one,  leaves just sixteen for the author’s own commentary,  most of which  is used up by linking and introducing the quotations. Not surprisingly, there is little room for really innovative  ideas about Gogol in general and Dead Souls in particular. In this chapter too,  the emphasis is on the special place and function of  the innumerable minor characters in the book.



Commentaries, Chronology, Index


The reader still thinking to be dealing with a real biography, despite numerous proofs to the contrary, such as the innumerable asides and interruptions made by the book’s first-person  narrator  (‘At this point it behooves me to say a few words about that mother of his, although frankly speaking I am sick of reading biographies in which mothers are subtly deduced from the writing of their sons and then made to “influence” their remarkable sons in this or that way’ [13])  is  definitely disillusioned in  the final chapter,  Commentaries. Among the most  remarkable  features of Nabokov’s oeuvre  is the game he is often playing  with the reader and the narrator. In Pnin the narrator unexptectedly makes his personal appearance  as a first-person narrator in the last chapters,  having been largely authorial in the previous ones. And  in Nikolay Gogol  Nabokov is doing something similar. The book ends with a conversation between the publisher and the author: ‘ “Well”– said my publisher, – “I like it – but I do think the student ought to be told what it is all about.”

I said…’[151]

In this commentary the author  gives a succinct account of  the plot of the works discussed before to the publisher who has not  fully understood, and he declares that  a bibliography  is unnecessary because  ‘except Mirsky’s excellent chapter in his History of Russian Literature’ [154] there aren’t any works of  Gogol  in English worth while mentioning. The ‘fictional’ character of this chapter is emphasised  greatly by the description of the environment  (‘A delicate sunset was framed in a golden gap between gaunt mountains’ [151]) and of  two cocker  puppies skipping  in while  the conversation is being  held; features not answering  the expectations of  the reader of  a biography. The author continues  playing with the expectations of  the reader in the two additions to the book,  the  Chronology, a brief chronological survey of  Gogol’s life, and the index.  The Chronology  is remarkable insofar as a full description of the plot of  Dead Souls is provided only at this stage (Winter 1841-1842) ,  not having been given  in the respective chapters. Even more remarkable is the entry

Winter 1836-1837 Paris. Lived on the corner of the Place de la Bourse and rue Vivienne. Wrote there a large portion of First Part of Dead Souls. Browning’s door is preserved in the library of Wellesley College. On warmish days he took Chichikov for strolls in the Tuileries. Sparrows, grey statues.[159].


An example  of  the mischievous mood which seems to have seized Nabokov quite often while  working on this book  and  highly appropriate for the creative reader, especially Browning’s door.

Even in the index, usually the most boring yet useful part of the book, Nabokov is unable to control his playfulness. Entries like Jesus, Christ 125 of Virgin, the 130  may raise a smile on the face of the reader with the appropriate sense of humour. For the true gourmet  are  ‘slips of the pen’  such as  Lyapkin-Tryapkin, who is really called  Lyapkin-Tyapkin, without an  ‘r’. In Russian Tryapka means ‘rag’. Lyapkin-Tyapkin is among the numerous minor figures Nabokov is describing, and it is worth mentioning that all of them are included in the index, their wives and children mentioned as well, such as Zemlyankia (another ‘slip of the pen’,  the chap is called  Zemlyankina)  who is followed by his children Nicholas, Ivan, Elizabeth, Mary, Perpetua.  By the way,  the pages are  by no means always numbered correctly, but this is hardly surprising in this context. The index is only included in the first edition from 1944.  Nabokov  has dropped it in later editions, which does not enhance the workability of the book. In a footnote to his commentary on Onegin  Nabokov is speaking about Nikolai Gogol as  ‘a rather frivolous little book with a nightmare index (for which I am not responsible) and an unscholarly, though well-meant, hodgepodge of transliteration systems (for which I am).’ [10]



Nikolay Gogol is non-fiction with a strongly fictional bias,  in the shape of a first-person narrator who is regularly postulating  his own views and  making his appearance in the text.  It is a biography, with the object  portrayed in a highly biased, subjective way.  It is obvious that the narrator is endeavouring to convince the reader of his own views on literature  and on  Gogol:  true literature is magic, a riddle,  a clearly social or  political  message being  fatal for  literature. The message, if any, has to be kept  hidden.  In doing so,  the biographer  is engaging in a polemic with the utilitarian views on literature which were generally accepted  by the radical literary critics in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Russia in which Nabokov was growing up and which after his emigration had been canonised in the Soviet Union. The game the author is playing with the reader is typical of Nabokov’s  fiction. According to the author, Gogol is for the creative reader, who, for one, is repeatedly provoked throughout the book , including the index.

Despite the fact that the author has failed to acknowledge his sources  and has not included a bibliography either,  this does not mean that he has not used any.  As to the description of Gogol’s life he has exclusively relied on a single (Soviet) source (Veresayev).  In his discussion of the work  the influence of (the equally Soviet) Andrey Bely and the formalist Eichenbaum can be felt.



Belyj, Andrej, Masterstvo Gogolja, OGIZ, Leningrad, Moskva 1934

Bowie, Robert, ‘Nabokov’s Influence on Gogol’ in: Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Jul. 1986), p.251-266.

Idem, ‘A Note on Nabokov’s Gogol’ in: The Nabokovian, Spring 1986, p.25-30.

Boyd, Brian, Vladimir Nabokov. The American Years, Princeton 1991

Eichenbaum, Boris, ‘Kak sdelana “Shinel’” Gogolja’ in: Eichenbaum, B.M. Skvoz’ literaturu. Sbornik statej 171-196. The Hague 1962.

Field, Andrew, The Life and Art of Vladimir Nabokov, New York 1986.

Nabokov, Vladimir, Dar, Ann Arbor 1975.

idem, Nikolai Gogol,  Norfolk, Connecticut 1944.

Idem, Nikolai Gogol, Oxford 1989 (reprint of the 1971 edition)

Idem, Eugene Onegin. A Novel in Verse by Alexander Pushkin. Translated from the Russian with a Commentary by Vladimir Nabokov. New York 1964.

Idem, The Nabokov-Wilson Letters. Correspondence between Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson 1940-1971. Edited, annotated and with an Introductory Essay by Simon Karlinsky. London 1979.

Idem, Lectures on Russian Literature. Edited, with an Introduction by Fredson Bowers. New York, London 1981.

Idem, Selected Letters 1940-1977. Edited by Dmitri Nabokov and Matthew J. Bruccoli. San Diego, New York, Londen 1989.

Veresayev, V. , Gogol’ v Zhizni. Moskva-Leningrad 1933.



Arthur Langeveld is Assistant Professor of Russian History and Literature at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He has published on Russian Modernism and the Theory of Translation, including (together with Willem G. Weststeijn) Moderne Russische Literatuur. Van Poesjkin tot Heden (Pegasus Amsterdam 2005) and Vertalen wat er staat (Atlas Amsterdam 2008).

[1] Boyd 1991, p. 30

[2] Field, p. 245

[3] Zie Bowie 1986 (2), p. 25-26

[4] The numbers after the quotations from Nikolai Gogol refer to the pagenumbers of the 1971 edition which is identical with the Oxford University Press edition of 1989.

[5] V.Nabokov, Selected Letters, p.56-57.

[6] The Nabokov-Wilson Letters, p. 10.

[7] Selected Letters, p. 41.

[8] Selected Letters 41

[9] ibidem 42

[10] Eugene Onegin. A Novel in Verse by Alexander Pushkin.  p 314. See also Bowie 263.

Over de auteur

Arthur Langeveld