Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021939, Sat, 13 Aug 2011 18:30:08 -0300

Re: Golliwogs
Re: [NABOKV-L] GolliwogsStan K-Bootle: "It's vital to know that Goll[i/y]wog (the doll and the name) is considered racist to many Anglophones. And Wog even more so, in the same taboo class as the N-word. Context: child-speak doggy-woggy Of course PC (Politically Correct) fashions vary confusedly over space, time and languages. Even sensitive novelists like Nabokov can be caught retrospectively 'out-of-phase,' as it were. He regularly uses Negro where Black or African-American have become more 'acceptable.' ..."

JM: There is a gigantic difference between employing incorrect words and exhibiting incorrect attitudes. I don't think that Nabokov ever made a slip in relation to the latter (there's no "violence" nor "brutality" in him), even though his words might have sounded politically incorrect, at least according to a transient verbal fashion.
We must keep in mind that it's Shade speaking through the Kinbote filter, but here is a paragraph that is worth reproducing:
"Shade said that more than anything on earth he loathed Vulgarity and Brutality, and that one found these two ideally united in racial prejudice...the tears of all ill-treated human beings, throughout the hopelessness of all time..., As a dealer in old and new words (observed Shade) he strongly objected to that epithet ["colored"] not only because it was artistically misleading, but also because its sense depended too much upon application and applier." ( this is an excerpt and not the full commentary which is worth reading again in its entirety).

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