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Nabokov Wasn’t There

In response to:

A Master of Noir from the January 17, 2008 issue

To the Editors:

The closing sentence of the opening paragraph of Mark Ford’s review “A Master of Noir” [NYR, January 17] cries out for correction. Julián Marìas’s Wellesley appointment was for the academic year 1952–1953. His alleged friendship with Vladimir Nabokov could not have happened in the manner stated; although Nabokov taught at Wellesley from 1941 to 1948, he resided except for the first year in Cambridge. In the Fifties he was teaching at Cornell.

The apartment the Marìases lived in was that of the eminent poet Jorge Guillén, on leave. They brought with them from Spain a baby-minder for the year-old Javier; she wasted little time in finding herself an American lover and eloping, leaving behind a very frantic Señora Marìas. My wife and I know because we lived in the apartment directly beneath. (A year later, the Marìases having left, the girl paid the janitor’s wife a visit to show off a baby of her own.)

B.J. Layman

Professor of English Emeritus

Wellesley College

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