by Suellen Stringer-Hye
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
Vanderbilt University

This month, due to the annual World Cup soccer event, Nabokov's name was mentioned several times as representative of the literary connection to soccer; a connection that includes Albert Camus, George Orwell and Harold Pinter. Excerpts from the works of these writers on soccer are included in The Faber Book of Soccer edited by Ian Hamilton and published by Faber and Faber. A reviewer called the book "a good browse" but commented on the books inconsistency by saying that "top notch writing can be found here but to call some pieces pedestrian would be a compliment."

The Daily Telegraph and the Independent reviewed a night devoted on the BBC to :

"...the dubious idea that football is an intellectually respectable pastime. Dostoevsky, Camus and Nabokov were quoted. Sociologists arrived in their dozens. Poetry was declaimed... Sexual overtones were hinted at, while fear, misery and joy were wheeled out as central emotions. It was a beautifully constructed, well researched and completely wrongheaded event. "

A news story in the June 6, Tass reports that on June 6, Russia celebrated the 195th anniversary of Alexander Pushkin's birth. The article goes on to say:

The name of the great Russian poet remains one of the few spiritual shelters left for the people born in Russia. Strongly feeling that they are inseparably connected with the native land.

A collection of poems composed by first Russian emigrants dedicated to the great Russian poet and entitled A Garland to Pushkin was published by the Moscow publishing house "Ellias Lak", timed to coincide with the anniversary of the poet's birth.

A tradition of "garlands" dedicated to the poet has deep roots in Russian culture. A few collections of poems dedicated to the genius of the Russian poetry were released last century. Similar books of poetry used to be published in the times of the soviet era as well, with the exception of poems composed by Russian emigrants, which were banned then. Therefore, such books of poetry merit attention now and the publication of a new collection of poems is a remarkable event in Russian Culture.

The volume includes " a Romance" by Vladislav Hodasevich and "Poems to Pushkin" by Marina Tsvetayeva, "Day in Remembrance of Peter" by Ivan Bunin, and "Pushkin's Nurse" by Sasha Chorny, "A Mermaid" by Vladimir Nabokov and "St. Petersburg" by Nikolai Agnivtsev.

The article closes with an announcement of a publication of the full collection of Pushkin's works including some manuscript materials.

Six decades on, the stuff has oozed into life's every nook and cranny...Ultimately it seems to consist of nothing but sterile synthetic shadows: the auditory equivalent of plastic tulips, wood-effect Formica and pine-forest toilet fresheners. Vladimir Nabokov found it "abominably offensive". He was not alone."

In case you missed it, the June 5th New York Times posted a small quiz composed by Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi, authors who write on the subject of neuroscience and its relationship to consciousness; particle physics and the search for objective reality. After wondering how books were written before the invention of the 12 to 14 word "handle" required by publishers in order to sell the work, they composed over twenty five of these pithy phrases for the posthumous benefit of those authors whose works were written before the present enlightened era. Below you will find excerpts without their answers from the quiz. Most of those selected are quite recognizable and I include them as context for the very humorous rendition of an especially well known work. Any stumpers, consult the NYTBR or query me directly.

    1. A family copes with a dysfunctional son who has turned into a beetle.
    2. A farmer struggles with livestock rustlers, questions of faith and large painful boils.
    3. A troubled multicultured marriage ends in strangulation.
    4. A Dublin businessman, after a day of errands requests breakfast in bed.
    6. Plucky latchkey children overcome homelessness, malnutrition and a witch.
    7. A prolix French invalid recalls memorable pastries.
    8. A poem about a daughter's failed blind date, amply footnoted.
    9. A woman's ambition for her husband leads to an obssessive compulsive disorder.
    10. The difficulties of an interracial friendship come to a head on a raft.

The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal. -- William James

Included for comparative study.

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