Scraping the Barrel

LV's Web Page of Unpublished VN






Welcome to my Web Site, which is dedicated to one of the greatest writers of the Twentieth Century, Vladimir Nabokov. It is my hope to collect on these pages Russian works by Nabokov that, for various reasons, have never been translated into English and are thus unknown to the researcher or general admirer who does not know Russian. I have therefore set about on a private project to translate some of those Russian texts in my possession into English, and place them here in the common domain for general use.

At this stage the site is still pretty much bare, but I have decided to approach the matter piecemeal, depending on the response to my efforts. I expect that response to be varying. None of the works that will make their appearance on this site enjoyed VN's approval later in life. Near his death Nabokov compiled a preliminary list of his Russian stories that he still deemed worthy of publication and entitled it "The Bottom of the Barrel." These stories (and a few others that may have passed his attention) have now all been translated into English by his son, Dmitri Nabokov. After some additional translations in "Nabokov's Butterflies" the barrel can now be considered empty, at least until such time (somewhere in the second half of the 21st century) as the restrictions on publications from his personal archives are removed.

The works that fall in the scope of my project are therefore "scrapings from the sides of the barrel," intended to fill this final silence and still the hunger of the truly insatiable, as well as cast some light on areas of Nabokov's work that are not generally known.

This may naturally incense some of the Orthodoxy, who seem to believe that an author of Nabokov's stature should feel embarrassed by early works that are "for some strange reason" not of the same rank as his later masterpieces. In any case, none of the works I intend to publish here are totally without merit, and there is certainly nothing to be found here that is comparable to Nikolai Gogol's splendidly atrocious "Hanz Küchelgarten" (subsequently destroyed by the author and much gloated over by VN himself!) But, be that as it may, I may make myself unpopular,and have therefore decided to remain anonymous for the time being.

At present the site includes my translation of "The Word" ("Slovo"), published in 1923, and presumably written by Nabokov in 1922, which is one of his earliest pieces of original prose we possess. For those who know Russian I have also placed the original Russian text here, as well as a short introduction to the story.

I am currently translating a recently discovered short story entitled "Easter Rain" dating from approximately the same period, that provides a fascinating look at the first variation on a theme to which Nabokov would return on several occasions - in his short story Mademoiselle "O", and his later biographical works (Conclusive Evidence, Speak Memory, Drugie Berega).

One of the least known aspects of Nabokov's literary output in Russian is his poetry, most of which remains untranslated in English. This is something I intend rectifying, and have already started on a couple of his early poems, including some very early ones from the 1916 volume "Stikhi". There are also some essays and dramatic works, most notably the two-act "Death," awaiting translation.

Well, that's it. Please take some time to read the disclaimer. And of course your feedback will be most welcome.


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Since 15 July 2000

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