Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020848, Thu, 7 Oct 2010 17:47:48 -0400

Re: THOUGHT: the whole codology
On Oct 6, 2010, at 10:47 PM, NABOKV-L wrote:

> Tom Rymour writes:
> Dear All,
> Re the hunt for codology in Pale Fire(AKA the Higgs boson of Nabokov
> studies) I recall a conversation with an academic in 1998. She was
> one of
> the three judges who had just seen fit to give me a literary award
> for a
> work of satirical fantasy. I asked her if she ever dabbled in
> fiction, and
> she said: "Good heavens, no! there are only two kinds of people --
> those
> who write and those who write about them. You're one and I'm the
> other.
> And if it wasn't for chaps like you, we'd have nothing to do!"
> It strikes me that Old McNab has given an awful lot of people a
> great deal
> to be getting on with. Personally, I'm content to look at the Taj
> Mahal by
> moonlight, rather than pore over architectural drawings of it.
> Hugs and kisses...
> Tom (Rymour)

One might simply ask what does a list-member seek in coming here?
The announcements, the sightings? the carefully crafted prose? verbal
ping-pong or quilting?
I guess I come here for the various kinds of explications and don't
feel particularly wasted, embarrassed, or forlorn for that.
I find Pale Fire engaging, and that it rewards inquiry and study.
Can one tell a priori when a writer has pondered too much, too wide,
or too deeply over a particular piece of literature?
Maybe some readers can. For sure we all live with our own prejudices,
meaning ready-made choices, of how we spend our time.
No one can read everything.

Analysis kills enjoyment.
I've had more than one teacher express that sentiment; and then
disparage it.
If every tenth page were torn out of a book, its greater gist might
still be comprehended. But what would that do to enjoyment?
Therefore, the more you know the more you enjoy.
But this is a generality, and the truth is what you experience in all
the many particularities of your life.
Therefore like the King in Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince I'll
command you to be yourself, and read whatever interests you and what
you perceive to be worthwhile; what you would do anyhow. If my name
serves as a stop sign, I find that regrettable, but unavoidable, for
I'll just be following my own best guesses and inclinations about how
I should spend my time.

Finally, taking a hint from the Chinese, let me counter a pretty
metaphor with a bland aphorism:
Criticism is good, specific criticism is better.

slightly piqued,

ps. as to my own prejudices, spider sense, and from what the blurbs
are... well let me just wish the most extraordinary good luck!
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