Via a facebook friend and the New York Times comes news that Dmitri Nabokov died last week at age 77. He lived, of course, under the shadow of his remarkable father Vladimir — and also in some ways equally formidable mother Vera but there was very little, if any, resentment. the Nabokovs adored their only son and he in turn conscientiously looked after them while they were alive and thoughtfully managed his father’s literary legacy. As some Nabokov scholars have learned, Dmitri could be a bit cantankerous at times, but he did yeoman’s work in helping to translate the Russian works into English, in bringing collections of the letters to print, and in taking care of the many little devotional editorial tasks that a great writer needs and deserves. Dmitri decision to allow the publication of The Original of Laura was controversial but I think he made the right call in a difficult case.
Aside from his care for his father, Dmitri lived a very active and colorful life (although also a seemingly lonely one). He was an opera singer and a race car driver, a high liver and a world traveler. One interesting biographical tidbit is that during his car racing days someone tried to kill him by sabotaging his vehicle. I believe that the mystery of this attempted murder was never solved. Dmitri Nabokov talked about this and about his father in this 1986 interview with Don Swaim.