Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Intellectuals Who Distrust Freedom
Vladimir Nabokov called attention to the West's ingrained distrust of emigres in a reproachful letter he sent to Edmund Wilson, the essayist who had extravagantly praised Lenin's regime, which may have had a hand in the assassination of Nabokov's father in Berlin in 1922:
Commentators (Kaisers and Thackerays) saw us merely as villainous generals, oil magnates, and gaunt ladies with lorgnettes who had only selfish and base motives for opposing Lenin. That stereotyping made their testimony unwelcome and unweighed, the great Russian novelist regretfully wrote to his future ex-friend.
Martin Amis argues that the emigres were very broadly the intelligentsia. They were the civil society, which was crushed and forced into exile by the professional revolutionaries of Bolshevism, who were perversely lionized by many in the chattering classes in the West.
Merciless toward the failings of the democracies but ready to tolerate the worst crimes as long as they are committed in the name of the proper doctrines.

· They have survived even the end of the Cold War [WashingtonPost ]
· Proust's Madeleine: waves of memory of Soviet times past [LRB ]