(1) евреи и американцы любят Набокова;
(2) Набоков выступал против нацистов и советов, да ещё и в защиту евреев;
(3) следовательно он боролся за убийство в искусстве Бога.
To simplify a russian émigré analysis:
(1) Jews and Americans like Nabokov;
(2) Nabokov made a stand against Nazis and Soviets, and besides, he defended Jews;
(3) therefore he strove to murder God in art.
The syllogism cannot be faulted.
October 3, 1945
I’ve just read your story [Simon Karlinsky: Apparently, “Double Talk,” written in March and April 1945 and published in The New Yorker of June 23, 1945. Later re-titled “Conversation Piece, 1945.”]—didn’t know it had come out till you told me. It is awfully funny and so like the kind of situation that one is likely to find oneself in nowadays.
I’m very sorry about your brother’s death. Human life means absolutely nothing in Europe today. In Greece and Italy they are still shooting each other at a great rate. I think that what the Allies ought to do is announce that nobody else is to be killed—even Ribbentrop, Goering and Company. Otherwise, there will be no end to it.
Do let’s effect a combination soon. I’m eager to see you.As ever,
—Dear Bunny, Dear Volodya: The Nabokov-Wilson Letters, 1940-1971, edited by Simon Karlinsky, University of California Press, 2001, p. 175
I can understand denying one’s principles in one exceptional case: if they told me that those closest to me would be tortured or spared according to my reply, I would immediately consent to anything, ideological treachery or foul deeds and would even apply myself lovingly to the parting on Stalin’s backside. Was Maklakov placed in such a situation? Evidently not.
All that remains is to outline a classification of the emigration. I distinguish five main divisions:
1. The philistine majority, who dislike the Bolsheviks for taking from them their little bit of land or money, or twelve Ilf-and-Petrov chairs.
2. Those who dream of pogroms and a Rumanian tsar, and now fraternize with the Soviets because they sense in the Soviet Union the Soviet Union of the Russian People.
4. Those who ended up across the border by inertia, vulgarians and careerists who pursue their own advantage and lightheartedly serve any leader at all.
5. Decent freedom-loving people, the old guard of the Russian intelligentsia, who unshakably despise violence against language, against thought, against truth.
—Vladimir Nabokov writing to Vladimir Zenzinov on 17 March 1945, regarding Vasily Maklakov, the official representative of the Russian émigrés in France, who attended a luncheon reception at the Soviet embassy in Paris and drank a toast “to the motherland, to the Red Army, to Stalin.” Quoted in Brian Boyd, Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years,Princeton University Press, 1993, pp. 84-85.
Plus ça change…