Vladimir Nabokov

Creative Tributes to Nabokov

This new category invites readers to send in their own creative tributes to Nabokov, in any medium, or to bring to the notice of other Nabokovians tributes that you have discovered.


Tatjana Bergelt (1966-) is a Helsinki-based artist born in Berlin who works in multiple media: artists’ books, prints, collages, paintings, and drawings. She earned a BFA and MFA from Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle after which she moved to Paris to earn a second MFA from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts before settling in Finland.

Interested in overlapping words, images, and metaphors, Bergelt’s work lies at the intersection of philosophical, historical, and socio-political inquiry and visual narrative. As a speaker of several languages, Bergelt is fascinated by the encounter between words (and their culturally bound meanings) and materials of artistic production. These encounters have produced a range of projects with multilayered content and an artistic idiom that privileges spontaneity and openness when seeking solutions to artistically challenging problems. From 2019 to 2022, Bergelt worked on Pas de Deux, an artist’s book based on Vladimir Nabokov’s dual commitment to writing and lepidopterology.

Pas de Deux contains two books facing each other that open in opposite directions simultaneously, thus providing the viewer with two spreads at a time. There are three main categories that organize the entries: Development, Parallel Time Lines, and Migration. The narrative is woven around images overlaid with Nabokov’s writings in English and Russian as well as his drawings pertaining to the evolution of the Polyommatus Blue butterflies. All entries are divided by association to either Nabokov-the-writer or the Blue-butterfly-species. The elements of play, self-quotation, synesthesia, mimicry, parody, irony, and bilingualism (on Nabokov’s side) face the butterfly side, which includes phylogenetics, circle of life, metamorphosis, microscopical structures and appearances. 

Bergelt continues to work with Nabokov scholars and has embarked upon a new project. 



Peter Lubin's "A Little Latin from Manhattan" is a new tribute, posted here on December 9, 2023.  Peter Lubin was an undergraduate student at Harvard when he met Nabokov in 1964. Nabokov was back in the United States for the launching of Eugene Onegin; they met at the Commander Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Lubin's parody "Kickshaws and Motley" was published in TriQuarterly 17 (1970): 187-208. Nabokov praised Lubin's parody in glowing terms: "The multicolored inklings offered by Mr. Lubin in his 'Kickshaws and Motley' are absolutely dazzling. Such things as his “v ugloo” [Russ. for “in the corner”] in the igloo of the globe [a blend of “glow” and “strobe”] are better than anything I have done in that line. Very beautifully he tracks down to their lairs in Eliot three terms queried by a poor little person in Pale Fire. I greatly admire the definition of tmesis (Type I) as a 'semantic petticoat slipped on between the naked noun and its clothing epithet,' as well as Lubin’s 'proleptic' tmesis illustrated by Shakespeare’s glow-worm beginning 'to pale his ineffectual fire.' And the parody of an interview with N. (though a little more exquisitely iridized than my own replies would have been) is sufficiently convincing to catch readers."

Since meeting Nabokov in 1964, and re-meeting him in Montreux in 1972, Peter Lubin has written, sometimes anonymously, on literary and political matters in The New Yorker (Talk of the Town), The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, National Review, Weekly Standard, Bostonia, and other venues. He helped Dmitri Nabokov to translate "Father's Butterflies: Second Addendum to The Gift."  Profession: None, or starlet.

David M. Rubin's short story "Symbols, Signs, and Saints" is a fictional response to Nabokov's short story "Signs and Symbols." A Flash Contest was announced on January 20, 2022, with a $50 prize to the first person to solve the key riddle about "Sings and Symbols" embedded in David Rubin's story.  

The winner, Pelagia Hogan, responded that same day with an eloquent explanation of the riddle in Rubin's tribute and a tribute of her own to Nabokov's story, which she gave permission to post on the website.


Barbara Bloom (1951- ) is a conceptual artist who has often worked on Nabokov. In 1999, in conjunction with New York bookseller Glenn Horowitz's sale of many of Nabokov's books inscribed to Véra, she staged a splendid exhibition with a variety of tributes to Nabokov, including carpets made from images of Nabokov's copies of the Olympia Press first edition of Lolita, one reproducing his pencil markings on the cover indicating page numbers where corrections were needed, another a clean copy of volume 2. She "issued" a sheet of Nabokov postage stamps; she devised a computer program to imitate Nabokov's handwriting, and printed fake manuscript index cards; she had an installation around Speak, Memory with successive levels of glass or perspex over sections of the text, mimicking the layering and occlusions of memory; and much, much more. 

She continues to work on Nabokov, as in these installations and exhibitions: The Collections of Barbara Bloom, 2008, and  Nabokov's Collection, 2020. As the former of these notes, "An example of one of her 'collections' is a complete set of Vladimir Nabokov's writings, with all the book covers redesigned by Bloom. This refers not only to herself as collector, and Nabokov as collector (he obsessively collected his own books), but herself as artist."


Kathryn Jacobi is a painter, printmaker, and photographer who produced these etchings  to commemorate the centennial celebrations of Nabokov's birth at the Cornell University Library. The etchings are inspired by Nabokov's novel Invitation to a Beheading.


J. Morris is a poet whose work has appeared in the 2018 collection Someone Is Breathing. J. Morris wrote a poem to celebrate the centenary of Nabokov's birth. The poem appeared originally in The Formalist.


Eric Vanderwall is a musician and his two solo albums are available on all major streaming and download services. "The Darkbloom Affair, Part III" is a collection of responses to, extensions of, and reimagined scenes from Lolita. It is a selection from a larger collection written for a course on Lolita at the University of Chicago, where Eric is completing a graduate degree. He is currently working on a novel.


Matthew Roth has been an active member of the IVNS since 2006. His scholarly work, mainly focused on Pale Fire, includes the first major study of the Pale Fire manuscript and numerous other articles, notes, and annotations. He serves as the Associate Editor for Reviews for the Nabokov Online Journal. He is also the author of one book of poetry (Bird Silence, 2009) and teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Messiah University, in Grantham, Pennsylvania. He has written two poems to commemorate Nabokov's birthday: “Sonnet Nabokov: Hummingbird Moths” and "Nabokov Dying: A Golden Shovel." The former was first published in ThinkA Journal of Poetry, Fiction, and Essays. The latter is unpublished.