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Arcadia

Interview with Nikolay All, June 1940
In Russian.

I was surprised even by the customs officers on the passenger wharf. [ ... ] When they opened my suitcase and saw two pairs of boxing gloves, two officers put them on and began boxing. The third became interested in my collection of butterflies and even suggested one kind be called "captain." When the boxing and the conversation about butterflies finished, the customs men suggested I close the case and go. Doesn't this show how straightforward and kind Americans are?

[Novoe Russkoe Slovo, June 23, 1940]




From a letter to Mikhail Karpovich, c. mid-June 1940
From New York. In Russian. Unpublished.

WARMEST thanks for your very kind offer, I accept with pleasure. If it's absolutely all right by you, we would come at the very beginning of July. [ ... ] I can't think without a quiver -- a sweet, torturing quiver -- that my passion for entomology will also be satisfied in Vermont. I am writing Avinov about some of my scientific findings in this domain.

[Bakhmeteff Archive, Columbia University]




From a letter to Elizaveta and Marussya Marinel, August 25, 1940
From West Wardsboro, Vermont. In Russian. Translated DN.

WE are staying amid marvelous green wilds with the wonderfully kind Karpoviches, where one can go around half-naked, write an English novel, and catch American butterflies (soon I'll have to start using your sweater: fall is near). My position is fatally undecided, so far nothing has worked out, and the thought of winter is rather frightening, but, by comparison, it is a genuine paradise here.

[Selected Letters 1940-1977, 33]

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Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; April 2000; Nabokov's Butterflies, Arcadia - 00.04; Volume 285, No. 4; page 59.