Recently I am translating some letters written by Nabokov to his wife Vera. The great difficulty is that in those personal letters he created many words that are hard to understand by a third person. I managed to solve some but there are two words/phrases I still cannot understand.

On the way here, to the summit of Feldberg, I composed and kept repeating to myself this little ditty: 'I love noittything except kittything.'
(Letters to Vera by Vladimir Nabokov P.84)

Here I know kittything means "small cat" but I cannot figure out what "noittything" stands for.

with Molly I am lunching at Charing-Cross and I'll be taking from her the corrected "autob" for Eileen Bigland--Curt.Br.--Goll.
(Letters to Vera by Vladimir Nabokov P.394)

What does "Curt.Br.--Goll." stands for?

1 Answer 1


"Noittything", which sounds similar to "nothing", is fairly clearly a corruption of that word for cutesy effect. So, it's just "nothing".

Unfortunately, I can only begin to guess what "Curt.Br." and "Goll." might mean. They might be names, abbreviated in a rather characteristically British style (by which William becomes Wm., for example; Curtis Br-something is at least a possibility), or they might perhaps be locations, abbreviated similarly, or they might even be some sort of cryptic description of the future statuses of the autobiography manuscript ("autob", as you have no doubt deduced). In all these cases, the dash appears to be used as a sort of terse punctuation for connecting the three items both by in time (either in sequence, or all at once) and by some other common thread relating to the manuscript.

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    Goll. is probably Victor Gollancz, who published Nabokov's Speak, Memory in 1951. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 12:12
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    Thanks for the help! Goll. indeed should be Gollancz and Curt. Br. should be Curtis Brown, both have been mentioned by Nabokov in his previous letters.
    – Jim Tang
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 19:24

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