Dostoevsky Studies     Volume 9, 1988


Nadja Jernakoff, Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.

It would be hard to imagine a more energetic and unwaveringly enthusiastic champion of Dostoevsky than the lady to whom this book is dedicated. Professor Nadine Natov's pioneer work in both the North American Dostoevsky Society and the International Dostoevsky Society is well known to all of us who are bound together by love and respect for the works of the great Russian writer.

Nadine, as she likes to be called by her friends both in English and in Russian, was born in Tashkent and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Moscow Institute of Modern Languages. She continued graduate work in Russian, French, and comparative literature at the University of Hamburg, the Sorbonne, and Wayne University. In 1969 she was awarded a PhD in Comparative Literature by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor after successfully defending her doctoral dissertation, "Camus and Dostoevsky: A Comparative Study."

People who knew her at that time - an unsettling period for anyone who, as a result of circumstances beyond their control has made the difficult trek from Russia to the United States -remember Nadine's stubborn persistence in the pursuit of her goal. She was then in poor health, with meager means at her disposal and responsible for the education of her son, but endowed with an iron will which was never to fail her. Not long ago, in a private conversation, I remember Nadine telling me that because her health had always been shaky, she learned to overcome whatever physical ailments or stumbling blocks she might encounter, as we all do, on her earthly path. "Never give up" might be an appropriate motto for Nadine.

Although her professional duties as Professor of Russian at the George Washington University on Washington, D.C., where she has taught since 1963, require her attention to be directed to other areas of Russian literature - she has taught courses on Pushkin and the Poets of his Time, on the 19th-century Novel, on Russian stylistics, on the main trends of 20th-century Russian literature, especially contemporary Soviet literature, and on Russian drama - it is, I strongly suspect, with inner Joy and peace that Professor Natov returns over and over again to her scholarly work on Dostoevsky or to the more mundane duties connected with the organization of meetings and symposia devoted to him.

Under Professor Natov's guidance as Executive Secretary, the International Dostoevsky Society has held European symposia every three years in such places as Bad Ems, West Germany; St. Wolfgang, Austria; Copenhagen; Bergamo, Italy; Cerisy-la-Salle, France; and Nottingham, England. In the summer of 1989 it will be the turn of Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, to be host for the next scheduled Dostoevsky symposium.


Perhaps one of Nadine's lesser known undertakings connected will best serve to illustrate her constant preoccupation with his legacy. In 1979, Nadine and her husband, Anatolii were instrumental in having a memorial stone placed in the cemetery of Plain Palais in Geneva on the newly rediscovered grave of Dostoevsky's oldest daughter, Sonia, was born and died in Switzerland in 1868.

The year 1981, which marked the 100th anniversary death, was an especially busy one for Professor participated in three conferences commemorating the France, Germany, and the United States and served as Editor of a special issue of Transactions/Zapiski of Association of Russian-American Scholars in the U.S.A entirely to Dostoevsky.

It is through her participation on the editorial board of Transactions/Zapiski, that I came in close contact with Nadine, Her wide-ranging knowledge of literature, her professional approach and friendly advice have gone a long way to lighten may work as editor of Transactions, especially on issues of the journal that are devoted to literature. She has been a member of the Association of Russian-American Scholars since 1970, as well as being affiliated with many other professional organizations.

This year - 1988 - the Slavic world is celebrating the millennium of the advent of Christianity in the lands of Rus'. In the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has been conducting a series of public lectures in connection with this event. Nadine's contribution was a recent paper on subject of "Religious Motifs in Contemporary Soviet Literature.

Nadine is tireless in her activities, never more so than in the field of Dostoevsky studies. Her dedication to her professional career and her steely resoluteness combine to sustain her in whatever task might be at hand. And we, the members of the International Dostoevsky Society, become the beneficiaries of relentless activity. Yes, indeed, we, too, can lay claim an "iron lady" of our own.

University of Toronto