Mark Ford

  • culture May 21, 2013

    Is Humbert Humbert Jewish?

    Vladimir Nabokov was eighteen when the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 made his wealthy family’s continued residence in Petrograd (as St. Petersburg was renamed at the start of World War I) impossible. They fled first to the Crimea and then, in 1919, to London. The following year they settled in Berlin, where in 1922 Nabokov’s father was assassinated, more by accident than design, by extreme right-wing Russian monarchists: they were attempting to kill another Russian émigré politician, Paul Milyukov. V.D. Nabokov bravely seized and disarmed one of the gunmen, and pinned him down, but was

  • Devils in the Details

    All recent English-language versions of Dante’s Inferno—of which there are enough to fill a fair-sized ditch in Malebolge—come equipped with notes explaining Dante’s references to transgressors such as Farinata degli Uberti or Archbishop Ruggieri or Vanni Fucci or Michael Scot, this last being an enterprising Scottish philosopher and translator of Aristotle condemned to the eighth circle of Hell for having dabbled in the dark arts of prophecy. Readers of Mary Jo Bang’s bold new version of the poem might worry that Dante himself is now rubbing shoulders until Judgment Day with Scot or the ancient