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Nabokov Suit Accents Copyright Woes

Published: November 14, 2003 (Issue # 919)



  • Dmitry Nabokov
    Photo: Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times

The Nabokov Estate in Russia has filed a suit against Nezavisimaya Gazeta for publishing several texts by Vladimir Nabokov without permission and defaming the author's name.

The publication in question is "Nabokov About Nabokov Etc.: Interviews, Reviews and Essays," printed in Russian by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta publishing house in 2002.

Olga Voronina, official representative of the Nabokov estate in Russia, says that the book is actually a reprint of Vladimir Nabokov's English-language "Strong Opinions," a collection of letters, interviews and essays, first published in 1973 in the United States, for which Nezavisimaya Gazeta had not received permission.

"They didn't even apply for permission," Voronina said. "Although there were some cuts and some additions, the book is clearly a reprint."

The case was filed in Moscow's Basmanny Court on Tuesday, near the registered office of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, which had no comment on the dispute.

However, Anna Raiskaya, managing editor of the publishing department of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, was quoted by Delovoi Peterburg newspaper this week as saying the publisher had done nothing wrong.

"All the materials, including illustrations, come from magazines and newspapers," she was quoted as saying. "Furthermore, our contract with Nikolai Melnikov, who compiled the book and wrote the introduction, says that he bears all responsibility for it."

Nabokov, considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century in any language, was born into a well-off St. Petersburg family and fled Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. He spent years in Europe before taking up a career as a teacher in the United States. He spent the last years of his life in Montreux, Switzerland, dying in 1977.

Nabokov's most famous work is "Lolita," the tale of a man's attraction to preadolescent girl.

His son, Dmitry, is in charge of the author's literary and financial heritage. The estate's representative in Russia takes care of his affairs in this country; Dmitry decided that the proceeds from Russian sales of Nabokov's books should be donated to the city's Nabokov museum.

Vadim Uskov, head of St. Petersburg law firm Uskov and Partners, said that although the book was published last year, his company had been trying to settle the dispute out of court.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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