One of the major Nabokov scholars these days is Gennady Barabtarlo, Professor of Russian at the University of Missouri, who studied Russian literature at Moscow University, got a PhD at the University of Illinois (his dissertation was on Pnin, which he has since translated into Russian), and has published poems and short stories alongside his articles on Nabokov; most recently, he has translated the posthumous semi-demi-novel The Original of Laura into Russian, in connection with which he was interviewed by Dmitri Bavilsky for Chastny Korrespondent. The most immediately striking thing about the interview (which was linked by Anatoly) is that Barabtarlo’s portion of it is in the old, prerevolutionary orthography (see this LH post, and note that the reform was actually promulgated by the Provisional Government in the summer of 1917, not by the Bolsheviks, which makes Barabtarlo’s position even odder than it would be anyway); he explains it thus (Russian below the cut):
It would help the rebirth not only of writing but of Russian civilization in general if there were an unconditional and decisive mass recoiling from everything produced by Soviet power, as people recoil with disgust from corruption [porcha] or infection, and this applies in the first place to speech in all its forms, including its written form (literary language is the last and least concern).
He has much more to say about translating in general and translating Nabokov, and I was greatly interested in his answer to the question “Which is closer to you, the Berlin Sirin [who wrote in Russian] or the American Nabokov, who wrote in English?” He begins by saying he doesn’t know any Russian emigrant—including Nabokov’s sister Elena, who knew English very well—who wouldn’t prefer the Russian Nabokov, “which is natural enough,” but goes on to say he himself believes the American Nabokov went farther artistically.
However, what concerns me at the moment is the name Barabtarlo: what is it from, and how is it pronounced? I say to myself /barab’tarlo/ (bah-rahb-TAR-low), but with very little confidence. The only thing I’ve found online is this brief Q&A, which says “On Ancestry.com, Barabtarlo turns up in listings as ‘Bessarabia (now Moldova).’ Many of them are identified as Jews.” My wild guess would be that it is derived from a Hebrew abbreviation, as the family name Barabash is from Ben Rabbi-Bunim Shmul, but I’d love to have something besides a wild guess to go on.
Помочь общему возрожденію не только словесности, но и вообще русской цивилизаціи могло бы безусловное и массовое отшатываніе рѣшительно отъ всего, произведеннаго совѣтской властью, какъ отшатываются съ отвращеніемъ отъ порчи или заразы, и это едва ли не въ первую очередь относится къ рѣчи, во всѣхъ ея формахъ, въ томъ числѣ и письменной (литературный языкъ — послѣдняя и наименьшая забота).