I apologize for the recent multiple-day downtime of “All About Vladimir Nabokov in Print”. My hosting service detected slews of spam emanating from the server and had to take it down until I could install tighter security and clean up the malware. Everything now appears clean and intact. Welcome back.
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The Nabokov Online Journal has posted, on this April 23rd, Nabokov’s 117th birthday (or thereabouts if you celebrate it on the 10th or the 22nd), an interview with me about my collecting and bibliographical work, “The Collector’s a Hedgehog, The Dealer’s a Fox”.
It is St. Louis, 1958. A woman, middle-aged, married, upper-middle class, is in bed, reading. Her husband walks in. She puts the book aside. The book is Lolita. This is a shot from the first episode, “Parallax”, of the new, second, season of Showtime’s Masters of Sex, 25:48 in.
The shot is slightly odd, though. It is clear that the Lolita is a thick, single, hardbound volume in the green Olympia Press dust jacket. Only one Lolita matches that description: The single-volume hardcover issued by Steimatzky in Israel most probably in 1959 (A28.1, Israeli printing, variant a). So, why is the woman, Allison Janney as Margaret Scully, a university provost’s wife in 1958, reading a foreign edition of a book that was released in the U.S. by Putnam on 15 September 1958? How did she get a hold of it a year before it was issued? Did someone send it to her from Israel? Had she recently visited Israel? Is there a backstory here?
Probably not. The only backstory that makes sense is one that the show’s prop master would tell us. Take a close look at the still from the episode. The jacket is in remarkably good shape. Makes sense for 1958 or 1959. But not for today, 55 years later, for a prop master to have found a dj in such fine condition. Also, that dj has some small, illegible printing in the lower left-hand corner of its back cover. A real Steimatzky dj is blank on its back. So it’s not a real Steimatzky dj.
Another detail. The top of the hardcover binding peeking out from the top of the dj reveals a volume quarter-bound in black cloth and white paper. Ah, that’s the Putnam edition. So, what we have is a marriage of an almost Steimatzky dj with a Putnam hardbound binding. The prop master seems to have scrambled to come up with the prop that the script called for. He found a Putnam copy, but without the dj. He needed a dj so that the camera could pick up the title easily. (There is no title or other writing on the Putnam binding.) Somewhere he found a copy or photo of one of the Olympia Press issues, covers and spine, and had a facsimile dj made to fit the slightly larger Putnam binding. But I still can’t figure out what that writing is on the bottom-left of the back cover.
So much for nitpicking popular period-piece television.
Michael House’s project, Lolita’s Butterfly, a documentary feature film that “explores the scientific work of literary icon Vladimir Nabokov”, has moved into its second stage of fund-raising. You can get details at Indiegogo:
House, an American composer and filmmaker based in Paris, has posted rushes and sample clips on the site. He raised more than $4500 in stage one through Indiegogo and is now trying to raise €3,000 in stage two.
Here’s the vimeo of some of the material:
…from Cape May to Hoboken (New Jersey, that is) and is holding me and my bibliographic database as electronic hostage. I don’t expect to be able to post more new drafts for several days.