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The British auction house Bonhams is offering two Nabokov lots—one an early book of poems, rebound, and the other a set of correspondence between Véra and an editor—on 17 February (a Sunday) at its San Francisco branch (auction #20940).

The auction house’s own descriptions are:

  • (Lot 6237) Gornii put’. [The Empyrean Path.] Berlin: Grani, 1923. 8vo. 180, [1 ad] pp. Modern quarter cloth, morocco spine label. Title toned and with two small marginal repairs, ad leaf detached. FIRST EDITION of this very early collection of poems, among Nabokov’s first publications. The Nabokov family moved to Berlin in 1920. Juliar A6.1. Estimate: US$ 1,000–1,500
  • (Lot 6238) 4 Typed Letters Signed and 1 Holiday Card Signed (“Véra Nabokov” and “V. and V. Nabokov” in Véra’s hand ), including 1 with Nabokov’s butterfly insignia, 4 pp, 8vo and 4to, Montreux, Switzerland, 1967-1972, to Peter Kemeny, w/ 3 original transmittal envelopes, some wrinkling and creasing, tears to blank margins of one letter. Véra writes to Kemeny, Vladimir’s one time editor at McGraw-Hill, about Kemeny’s planned visits to Europe, news of family, thanking him for letters, etc. On March 3, 1972, she writes, “VN is deep, deep in his new book, to be titled TRANSPARENT THINGS.” In the same letter she registers her and Vladimir’s opinions of Updike’s Rabbit: VN always finds a million of [sic] things that he loves in Updike’s books. To be quite frank, I was not enthusiastic.” Estimate: US$ 800–1,200

There is nothing special about the material. The Gornii put’ is not in its original wrappers, it appears that the original covers may not even have been bound in, and the ad leaf is detached. (In comparison, in New York on 5 December Bonhams moved a very, very nice copy of Gornii put’ for $3800, before the premium.) The letters are not in Nabokov’s hand or even composed by him, though one has been lepidopterized. The estimates are fair, reflecting these shortcomings. The buyer’s premium is the usual 25%.

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Continuing with the next set of draft pages for the revised and updated bibliography: Strong Opinions, Nabokov’s collection of 22 interviews, 11 letters, nine articles, and five lepidoptera papers and book reviews first published in 1973 by McGraw-Hill. Since then, there have been five more editions in English. Strong Opinions was A44 in the 1986 bibliography.

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And on we move to the next set of draft pages for the revised and updated bibliography: Переписка с сестрой [Perepiska s sestroĭ / Correspondence with his sister], a collection of letters between Nabokov and his sister Elena (or Helene) published by Ardis Publishers in 1985. It was A56 in the 1986 bibliography.

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A new set of draft pages for the revised and updated bibliography: Vladimir Nabokov: Selected Letters: 1940–1977 was first published in 1989 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. It is a hefty volume of 473 items, almost all letters, of course. Included are some letters written to Nabokov, several pages of photos, and a little endpaper collection of Nabokov’s delightful butterfly inscriptions. It is A59 in the 1986 bibliography.


A new set of draft pages for the revised and updated bibliography: The Nabokov-Wilson Letters: Correspondence Between Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson 1940-1971 was first published in 1979 by Harper & Row. In 1980, the publisher issued a partially corrected paperback. And then in 2001, the University of California Press put out a revised and expanded edition as Dear Bunny, Dear Volodya: The Nabokov-Wilson Letters, 1940-1971 with 59 new letters (29 by Nabokov) and multiple corrections, in particular of dates. It is A49 in the 1986 bibliography.