Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

January 29, 2010

Nabokov and Nuclear War

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 12:28 pm

Some commenter recently sought out my views on Nabokov’s uncompleted work, The Original of Laura and acted indignantly like I’d never addressed the question before, So, just in case you missed it. here is a link to the most recent of at least five columns I’ve written on the subject for The New York Observer and Slate. There will be a quiz.

And that link contains links to most of the others. It will explain why even though I don’t believe the book should have been published, against the author’s wishes, I’m nonetheless thanked in the acknowledgments by Nabokov’s son. . Strange story.

Maybe I’ve misjudged my audience. I’d be happy to learn there are people out there who care as much for culture as they do for vitriolic politics.

In any case I’ll take this opportunity to link to a podcast of the recent segment of This American Life I I did. on the so called “Letter of Last Resort” in British nuclear submarines which I think you’ll find of interest.

In fact for my book on nuclear war I’d like to hear from any nuclear submariners who feel free to talk.



  1. Ron, Speaking of lost and hidden and never seen papers, what about your old quarry JDS? “Esquire” has reposted your famous piece, cover and all. Reminds me of that famous joke that Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to relate about the guy who came back from the jungle telling about his encounter with Dr. Livingston I. Presume

    Comment by charlie finch — January 29, 2010 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

  2. sub link not provided

    Comment by charlie finch — January 29, 2010 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  3. NUKAKOV Professor Nukakov opened the door. “I’ve been expecting you, Kinkbert, you were the only student who finished the test. Come and sit before the roaring fire.” “Thank you professor, it’s cold out in the woods.” “Won’t you have a drink, Kinkbert? I’ve made a pitcher of Bloody Marys.” “Don’t mind if I do, Professor.” (I found his warmth rather offputting. Even though I was always Nukakov’s favorite, I had always found him rather bloodless.) Nukakov pulled up an easy chair for me, then sat back in his rocker. “You see, Kinkbert, when I handed out the formula, leaving the last part unfinished, I didn’t expect any of my students to furnish the answer, even you.” “I know professor, that is why I slipped the answer under your door where no one could see it.” “Yes, Kinkbert, but what you didn’t realize was that I, too, didn’t know the final variable in the formula and was surprised that you could provide it.” “It thrilled me to do it, Professor Nukakov.” “No one loves a completist, Kinkbert, the secret to survival is to always leave something unanswered, to provide an incentive to continue.” I was mildly alarmed, “Do you mean that you have already employed it.” “Yes, Kinkbert, your missing piece assured me that nothing would survive.” “And…?” “Nothing survived, after I pushed the button, and you and I, Kinkbert, are already dead.”

    Comment by charlie finch — January 30, 2010 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  4. If you want to know the truth, Ron, I want to know why everybody important has to be the son of a Rabbi or the son of a son of a Rabbi like Salinger (per the Finacial Times); at least you weren’t the son of a Rabbi, me neither. NPR had a charming peiece this year about some college kid years ago who wanted to dramatize The Catcher in the Rye. He did get up and visit Salinger who offered to take him somewhere on leaving. The fellow felt reassured by Salinger and went on to do some Hollywood producing or writng apparently.

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2010 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  5. Ron, great piece on This American Life. I was on the nuclear ballistic sub Ben Franklin, ssbn 640 and am finishing up on a documentary about my experiences. I’ve interviewed more than 40 shipmates. Would be eager to chat with you.

    Comment by mel Halbach — March 3, 2010 @ 6:36 pm | Reply

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