NABOKV-L post 0014432, Tue, 19 Dec 2006 09:06:54 -0500

VN as an American writer
Jansy Mello: In BS there are several lines by Melville that were
transformed into a kind of poem, and they must invite this by their
musicality ...

Suellen: The poem is directly derived from lines in Moby Dick.
Actually, a poet in California has taken all of the lines of Moby
Dick and arranged them into verse format. Quite astounding really.
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or The Whale, Evanston: Northwestern
University Press. ([1851], 1988), p. 44, 64, 79, 242.

A curious sight-these bashful bears,
These timid warrior whalemen

And now the time of tide has come;
The ship casts off her cables

It is not shown on any map;
True places never are

This lovely light, it lights not me;
All loveliness is anguish

Here are some more quotes from Strong Opinions about VNs sense of
himself as an American

"I think of myself as an American writer who has once been a
Russian one."

" I am as American as an April in Arizona."

"I am 1/3 American--good American flesh keeping me warm and safe."

"I am an American, I feel American, and I like that feeling"

"I see myself as an American writer...".

A. Bouzza posting quote from the Guardian:

"Nabokov may well have wanted to be thought of as an American
writer, but it doesn't change the fact he was Russian."

Suellen: My contention is that because Nabokov wanted to be an
American writer he immersed himself in American literature and
found in Melville a tradition that he could graft himself onto.
This he did at least in Ada where there are many Melvillian echoes
and threads but especially to Pierre or the Ambiguities (note the
parallel title Ada or Ardour). Of course I could go on at length
but I'll stop here simply to say that Nabokov stated over and over
his love and affinity for America. He didn't just "want to be
thought of as an American writer", he actually took pains to be


Suellen Stringer-Hye
Vanderbilt University
Email: suellen.stringer-hye@Vanderbilt.Edu

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