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Of the 126 editions of Nabokov translated into French, five display the old French publishing practice of “mention fictive” or “édition fictive”. This is when a publisher issues copies of a book with different and purposely misleading printing statements on their covers, spines, or title pages in order to give the potential book buyer the impression that the book is so popular that the publisher had to order additional impressions from the printer. (For instance, in 1934 Bernard Grasset issued Chambre obscure in at least five states, three of which display édition statements on their spines.) The giveaway, though, is the colophon at the end of every French book. If a publisher says a book has gone through multiple impressions or éditions but the printing dates embedded in the colophon are all the same, we have instances of mention fictive.

Besides Bernard Grasset’s 1934 Chambre obscure, mention fictive is also present in Gallimard’s 1939 and 1959 La méprise, Albin Michel’s 1951 La vraie vie de Sebastian Knight, and Gallimard’s 1958 Lolita (whose state a first trade printing of 23-Apr-1959 comprised édition one through at least seventy-seven.). See the French D item drafts for details.

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Here are the draft pages for translations in French. With 36 of Nabokov’s books translated into French and issued in 126 editions, it is clear that Nabokov has been better received in France than in any non-Anglophone or non-Russophone country except possibly Germany. Since 1933 when Fayard published Защита Лужина [The Luzhin defense] as La course du fou in both a limited state and a trade state, Fayard, Gallimard, Julliard, Grasset, and several dozen smaller houses have continuously been producing translations in hardcover and paperback trade editions, limited editions, boxed sets, book club editions, and even as an unbound pack of postcards (the memoir/story Mademoiselle O in Nabokov’s original French, and therefore an A item).

Nabokov was fluent in French and carefully checked the translations of his works into French with the same care he took with the translations of his Russian works into English.

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A new set of draft pages: Nine Stories, Nabokov’s first collection of short stories in English published by New Directions in 1947. It is A25 in my 1986 bibliography.

I apologize for how colors are rendered in the photos. Some are slightly off, a few more so. (For instance, the cover of A25.1a is actually black and not blue.) The problem will be corrected.

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