You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Vladimir Nabokov at the New Republic

The author’s reviews for the magazine from 1940 to 1944.

Crystal and Ruby (1940) “Tariel, the sunlike, the cypress-formed, may be inferior, spiritually and intellectually, to his Western brethren, King Arthur’s knights, but, otherwise, he puts them rather into the shade...”

Diaghilev and a Disciple (1940) “The Russian Renaissance is a curiously lovely thing to look back at over one’s shoulder, blending as it does priceless artistic magic with a touch of eerie futility and the pathos of its impending doom…”

Mr. Shakespeare of the Globe (1941) “I was disappointed not to find in ‘Mr. Shakespeare of the Globe’ something which the pun in the title seemed to promise--a survey of his influence in other countries...”

The Art of Translation (1941) “Three grades of evil can be discerned in the queer world of verbal transmigration. The first, and lesser one, comprises obvious errors due to ignorance or misguided knowledge. This is mere human frailty and thus excusable. The next step to Hell is taken by the translator who intentionally skips words or passages that he does not bother to understand or that might seem obscure or obscene to vaguely imagined readers; he accepts the blank look that his dictionary gives him without any qualms; or subjects scholarship to primness: he is as ready to know less than the author as he is to think he knows better. The third, and worst, degree of turpitude is reached when a masterpiece is planished and patted into such a shape, vilely beautified in such a fashion as to conform to the notions and prejudices of a given public. This is a crime, to be punished by the stocks as plagiarists were in the shoebuckle days...”

Homes for Dukhobors (1941) “Nu (as the author would say), this is a highly entertaining account of what the Dukhobors did, or declined to do, in Caucasia and Canada. Although the first chapters dealing with the history of the movement are anything but dull, the real fun starts when the bearded babes have been shipped to the remote wood selected for them by hopeful humanitarians...”

Cabbage Soup and Caviar (1944). “Some fifty writers are represented in Mr. Cournos’ anthology and some thirty in Mr. Guerney’s. Except that the latter goes much farther back into the past while the former includes a much greater number of contemporary authors, both volumes cover much the same ground. Both contain Gogol’s “Overcoat” and his “Inspector General”; Pushkin’s “Queen of Spades”; Lermontov’s ballad about Kalashnikov, the amateur pugilist; and Bunin’s “Gentleman from San Francisco.” Both have Sologub—that very minor writer for whom England and America show such an unaccountable predilection. Both open with the rather too obvious prose poem by Turgenev concerning the greatness of the Russian language. Both republish some of Baring’s excellent translations of Russian lyrics. Here the similarity ends...”