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From the Editor Access to that skewy genre, the editorial column, is an unanticipated benefit and a mixed blessing of journal editorship. Editorial introductions always strike me as an odd mixture of relief that the volume at hand is finally done and special pleading that one's judgments be taken seriously in spite of one's personal insecurities, polemical generalities, professional confusion, and embarrassing or offenseful errors that may still be lurking in the body of the volume. These days editors cannot evade the added burden of keeping up with and weathering various vocabularies of contingency. When even Vaclav Havel, in his capacity as the president of yet another Eastern European nation, uses the New York Times as a forum in which to describe our age as one that has seen the end of rationalism and objectivity,1 editors cannot help but be queasy indeed about rendering judgment on the scholarship and critical acumen of others. Even if they learn to ignore the apocalyptic irruptions the New York Times seems prone to, editors receive but little encouragement or consolation from Nabokov. The son of an editor and himself the producer of me monumental editorial apparatus for Eugene Onegin and the monstrous one of Pale Fire, Nabokov in interviews did not differentiate between proofreaders and editors but only between "limpid creatures of limitless tact and tenderness" and "pompous avuncular brutes."2 While striving after the ideal of the first, I must confess that donning the second of the masks Nabokov assigns editors gets the job done far more efficiently, especially now when the enabling assumption of much academic criticism seems to be a distrust of a text's overt claims and any journal's universe of signification seems unlikely to stop expanding without someone crying out for a break. A curious tool enabling the editor to yell "Stop!" is the archness of Nabokov's public prose. Nabokov's prefaces, interviews, and letters seem to have inocu1 . 1 March 1992: 15. 2. Vladimir Nabokov, Strong Opinions (New York: Vintage International 1990), 95-96. Nabokov Studies lated Nabokov scholars against unself-critically assuming that their own efforts to unmask his text's concealing and distorting ideologies are somehow exempted from charges of ideological distortion, delusion or naivete. Despite Nabokov's description of himself as the perfect dictator over his galley slave characters, a dictator who moreover does not bother about his audience (Strong Opinions 69, 95, 18), very few critics have puzzled over Nabokov's actual or feigned totalizing. The efforts to avert the Master's gaze notwithstanding , Nabokov's published declarations about bis own work and his willingness to go to court over Nabokov: His life in Part remain a formidable obstacle for the true intertextualists and the "death-of-the-author" critics. Consequently, thematic studies of individual works have dominated journal submissions, with a close second going to the "Nabokov and X" category. If previously published articles on Nabokov and the current "Nabokov and X" submissions to Nabokov Studies are a reliable indication of what it is Nabokov critics are up to, many of them seem preoccupied with finding some other writer around whom to establish the proper and most profitable context for the study of Nabokov's own work. Despite Nabokov's denials ("I do not believe that any particular writer has had any definite influence upon me" [Strong Opinions 46]), Nabokov critics have become what Kundera calls "discoverers of discoveries." Although varied in choice of subject matter, focus, scope, and method, what they discover are influences, allusions, quotations, subtexts, parodies, and pastiches. Through such discoveries, all of the following writers have been linked to Nabokov: Henry Adams, Conrad Aiken, Baudelaire, Barth, Barthelme, Barthes, Beckett, Bellow, BeIy, Bergson, Blok, Borges, Boswell, Paul Bowles, Briusov, Brodsky, Hermann Broch, Bulgakov, Bunin, James Branch Cabell, Carroll, Chateaubriand, Chaucer, Chekhov, Chernyshevsky, Coleridge, Conrad, Coover, Cortázar, Dahlberg, De Maupassant, Derzhavin, De Quincey, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Doyle, Eco, Eliade, Erofeev, Evreinov, Faulkner, Flaubert, Ford Madox Ford, John Fowles, Benjamin Franklin, Freud, Frisch, Gogol, Guillen, Gumilev, John Hawkes, Hawthorne, Heinlein, Joseph Heller, Hemingway, Henry James, Joyce, Kafka, Kataev, Keats, Khodasevich, Kristeva, Kuzmin, Mann, Marvell, Maupassant, Henry Miller, Mirsky, Iris Murdoch, Nin, Olesha, Pasternak, Petrarch, Poe, Pope, Proust...


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