NABOKV-L post 0012157, Wed, 30 Nov 2005 08:20:20 -0800

Fwd: further wellsian (and nietzscheian) reflections
Nabokovians may be interested in comparing the following passages from
Nabokov, Wells, and Nietzsche:

"For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall
bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere,
connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness,
kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books. All the rest
is either topical trash or what some call the Literature of Ideas, which is
very often topical trash coming in huge blocks of plaster that are
carefully transmitted from age to age until somebody comes along with a
hammer and takes a good crack at Balzac, at Gorki, at Mann." (V. Nabokov,
On a book entitled Lolita, in Lolita, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1958:
pp. 316-317.)

"He still read books when he had a chance, books that told of glorious
places abroad and glorious times, that wrung a rich humour from life and
contained the delight of words freshly and expressively grouped. But alas!
there are not many such books, and for the newspapers and the cheap fiction
that abounded more and more in the world Mr. Polly had little taste." (H.G.
Wells, The History of Mr. Polly, New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1909: pp.

"His literary admirations were not precisely Mr. Polly's literary
admirations; he thought books were written to enshrine Great Thoughts, and
that art was pedagogy in fancy dress, he had no sense of phrase or epithet
or richness of texture, but still he knew there were books, he did know
there were books and he was full of large windy ideas of the sort he
called 'Modern [...] Thought,' [...]" (H.G. Wells, The History of Mr.
Polly, New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1909: p. 195.)

"There are more idols than realities in the world [...] For once to pose
questions here with a hammer, and, perhaps, to hear as a reply that famous
hollow sound which speaks of bloated entrails [...] and regarding the
sounding out of idols, this time they are not just idols of the age, but
eternal idols, which are here touched with a hammer as with a tuning fork:
there are altogether no older, no more convinced, no more puffed-up idols --
and none more hollow." (F. Nietzsche (1888), preface to Twilight of the
Idols, or, How One Philosophizes with a Hammer, in W. Kaufmann ed. and
trans. The Portable Nietzsche, New York: Penguin, 1954: pp. 465-466.)

Michael S. Strickland

----- End forwarded message -----