A remarkable letter from Nabokov to his literary agent, Doussia Ergaz, (at the Bureau Litteraire Clairouin in Paris), in which he wonders, “if you might not have some news for me” regarding six of his books. DESPAIR (La Meprise)- “There was some talk of a reprint, as I recall. What’’s become of that?”/ SHORT STORIES (Nouvelles)- “Have you tried to get them translated by Karl Priel? Have you managed to get them published—either in a magazine or book form?”/ INVITATION TO A BEHEADING (Invitation au Supplice)- “Where do we stand with this book? Who have you tried since Albin Michel turned it down”/ NIOCOLAI GOGOL- “What’s going on with this one?”/ THE DEFENSE (La Course du Fou)- “Didn’t you write that there was talk of a new edition? I may be wrong about that—it’s been so long since you last wrote me about it” and GLORY (Exploit)- “I don’t know if you’re still handling this book as well. I’d like to put some order in my affairs and I would be extremely grateful to you if you would bring me up to date in regard to the French rights of all these books. Also, tell me if you think it likely that you’ll be able to find French publishers for them.” Signed, “I hope you are well, Vladimir Nabokov”.
The Nabokovs resided in Wellesley, Massachusetts during the 1941-42 academic year; they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in September 1942 and lived there until June 1948. Following a lecture tour through the United States, Nabokov returned to Wellesley for the 1944-45 academic year as a lecturer in Russian. He served through the 1947-48 term as Wellesley’s one-man Russian Department, offering courses in Russian language and literature. His classes were popular, due as much to his unique teaching style as to the wartime interest in all things Russian. He also made contributions to entomology and had an interest in chess problems. Letters of Nabokov have always been scarce and most desirable.