VN papers

You are currently browsing articles tagged VN papers.

To continue from my previous posting about Christie’s 4 December auction of VN’s index cards/manuscript of The Original of Laura.

On 5 May 2004, the well-known French auction house Tajan offered 104 lots from Dmitri Nabokov’s personal library of inscribed and lepidopterized presentation copies of his father’s works along with minor manuscript material and books about VN. Some of the books included annotations and corrections. The estimated prices were high, very high. Three had a top estimate of 100,000 €. The catalog was an expensive affair, issued in hardcover.

Though I have never found direct information on exactly what happened, I heard through the grapevine that the auction was a disaster and that nothing was sold. In fact, Tajan didn’t issue on paper or online a list of the auction results. What happened? I think that those 104 lots were just too many for the Nabokov market to absorb at one time and the estimated prices (and therefore the reserves) were simply too dear to potential buyers. Tajan must have spent a lot of money on preparing for the auction and got nothing for its efforts (depending on whatever deal it struck with Dmitri). And Dmitri had to take all of his books back home.

So here at Christie’s we have, quantitatively, a much more modest offering: one manuscript (very much in the public’s literary eye today) and five inscribed editions. The five books have estimates from a low of $7,000-10,000 to a high of $10,000-15,000. These are justifiable estimates for copies inscribed to close members of the family outside of the very inner circle of Véra and Dmitri.

And the 138 index cards? I ask myself, How often does a novel by a major literary figure come on the market? Extremely rarely. I mentally turn the cards over in my hands. This is terra incognita. This is at the very high end of the literary market. I see a shot into the stratosphere that will, like a cloud-seeding experiment, affect everything VN under it. So for now, unsatisfyingly, I decline to come to a conclusion. I’ll attend and see what happens and then reach for an understanding.

Tags: , , , ,

The Library of Congress today is making available to the public a set of VN papers that had been, with Dmitri Nabokov’s permission, restricted to researchers until now. Is it really true, according to an LoC statement some years ago, that the Nabokov writings in it will be in the public domain?

In 2004, the LoC said that the papers were in containers 1-20 and OV-1. A detailed list of containers 1-15, called a “complete listing”, was published in 1980 by The Vladimir Nabokov Research Newsletter (now The Nabokovian), IV, pp. 20-34. The current LoC online catalog describes the collection as containing in full 7000 items in 22 containers and one oversized container and 13 reels of microfilm dating from 1918-1974. I cannot account for the discrepancies (15 or 21 or 23) in the container counts.

Here is the beginning of a link to the LoC records.

Tags: ,