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A FORGOTTEN POET.
"A Forgotten Poet" is from Nabokov's Dozen, 1958 (see Appendix).
TIME AND EBB.
"Time and Ebb" is from Nabokov's Dozen, 1958 (see Appendix).
CONVERSATION PIECE, 1945.
"Conversation Piece, 1945" is from Nabokov's Dozen, 1958 (see Appendix).
SIGNS AND SYMBOLS.
"Signs and Symbols" is from Nabokov's Dozen, 1958 (see Appendix).
"First Love" is from Nabokov's Dozen, 1958 (see Appendix).
SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF A DOUBLE MONSTER.
"Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster" is from Nabokov's Dozen, 1958 (see Appendix).
THE VANE SISTERS.
Written in Ithaca, New York, in February 1951. First published in the Hudson Review, New York, Winter 1959, and in Encounter, London, March 1959. Reprinted in the collection Nabokov's Quartet, Phaedra, New York, 1966.
In this story the narrator is supposed to be unaware that his last paragraph has been used acrostically by two dead girls to assert their mysterious participation in the story. This particular trick can be tried only once in a thousand years of fiction. Whether it has come off is another question.
V.N., Tyrants Destroyed and Other Stories, 1975
"Lance" is from Nabokov's Dozen, 1958 (see Appendix).
"Easter Rain" was published in the April 1925 issue of the Russian emigre magazine Russkoe Ekho, the only known extant copy of which was discovered in the 1990s. It was translated by Dmitri Nabokov and Peter Constantine.
"The Word" was first published in the January 7, 1923, issue of Rul'; Dmitri Nabokov's translation appeared in the December 26, 2005, issue of The New Yorker.
Following are Nabokov's Bibliographical Note to Nabokov's Dozen (Doubleday & Company, Garden City, New York, 1958) and his forewords to the three collections he published with McGraw-Hill, New York: A Russian Beauty and Other Stories (1973), Tyrants Destroyed and Other Stories (1975), and Details of a Sunset and Other Stories (1976).
Bibliographical Note to Nabokov's Dozen (1958)
"The Aurelian," "Cloud, Castle, Lake," and "Spring in Fialta" were originally written in Russian. They were first published (as "Pilgram," "Oblako, ozero, bashnya," and "Vesna v Fial'te") in the Russian emigre review Sovremennyya Zapiski (Paris, 1931, 1937, 1938) under my pen name V. Sirin and were incorporated in my collections of short stories (Soglyadatay, Russkiya Zapiski publisher, Paris, 1938, and Vesna v Fial'te i drugie rasskazi, Chekhov Publishing House, New York, 1956). The English versions of those three stories were prepared by me (who am alone responsible for any discrepancies between them and the original texts) in collaboration with Peter Pertzov. "The Aurelian" and "Cloud, Castle, Lake" came out in the Atlantic Monthly, and "Spring in Fialta" in Harper's Bazaar, and all three appeared among the Nine Stories brought out by New Directions in "Direction," 1947.
"Mademoiselle O" was originally written in French and was first published in the review Mesures, Paris, 1939. It was translated into English with the kind assistance of the late Miss Hilda Ward, and came out in the Atlantic Monthly and in the Nine Stories. A final, slightly different version, with stricter adherence to autobiographical truth, appeared as chapter 5 in my memoir Conclusive Evidence, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1951 (also published in England as Speak, Memory, by Victor Gollancz, 1952).
The remaining stories in the present volume were written in English. Of these, "A Forgotten Poet," "The Assistant Producer," " 'That in Aleppo Once ...'," and "Time and Ebb" appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and in Nine Stories; "Conversation Piece" (as "Double Talk"), "Signs and Symbols," "First Love" (as "Colette"), and "Lance" came out first in The New Yorker; "Double Talk" was reprinted in Nine Stories; "Colette," in The New Yorker anthology and (as chapter 7) in Conclusive Evidence; and "Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster" appeared in The Reporter.
Only "Mademoiselle O" and "First Love" are (except for a change of names) true in every detail to the author's remembered life. "The Assistant Producer" is based on actual facts. As to the rest, I am no more guilty of imitating "real life" than "real life" is responsible for plagiarizing me.
Foreword to a Russian Beauty and Other Stories (1973)
The Russian originals of the thirteen Englished stories selected for the present collection were composed in western Europe between 1924 and 1940, and appeared one by one in various emigre periodicals and editions (the last being the collection Vesna v Fialte, Chekhov Publishing House, New York, 1956). Most of these thirteen pieces were translated by Dmitri Nabokov in collaboration with the author. All are given here in a final English form, for which I alone am responsible. Professor Simon Karlinsky is the translator of the first story.
Foreword to Tyrants Destroyed and Other Stories (1975)
Of the thirteen stories in this collection the first twelve have been translated from the Russian by Dmitri Nabokov in collaboration with the author. They are representative of my carefree expatriate tvorchestvo (the dignified Russian word for "creative output") between 1924 and 1939, in Berlin, Paris, and Mentone. Bits of bibliography are given in the prefaces to them, and more information will be found in Andrew Field's Nabokov: A Bibliography, published by McGraw-Hill.
The thirteenth story was written in English in Ithaca, upstate New York, at 802 East Seneca Street, a dismal grayish-white frame house, subjectively related to the more famous one at 342 Lawn Street, Ramsdale, New England.
V.N., December 31, 1974, Montreux, Switzerland
Foreword to Details of a Sunset and Other Stories (1976)
This collection is the last batch of my Russian stories meriting to be Englished. They cover a period of eleven years (19241935); all of them appeared in the emigre dailies and magazines of the time, in Berlin, Riga, and Paris.
It may be helpful, in some remote way, if I give here a list of all my translated stories, as published, in four separate volumes in the U.S.A. during the last twenty years.