NABOKV-L post 0011942, Tue, 20 Sep 2005 20:08:24 -0700

Subject
Fwd: RE: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was
Date
Body


----- Forwarded message from gshiman@optonline.net -----
Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2005 01:36:36 -0400
From: George Shimanovich <gshiman@optonline.net>
Reply-To: George Shimanovich <gshiman@optonline.net>
Subject: RE: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was
To: 'Vladimir Nabokov Forum'

FROM CAROLYN??
> It just strikes me as odd (at least it strikes me now, since the subject
was recently thrust unwanted upon us) that this aspect of your father's work
has not - - so far as I can recall - - been addressed by any of his serious
critics.


RESPONSE: George
As one poet said to his future commentator: Why must one always bring up
pornographic record? I question that critic who will place his undivided
attention on single piece of chalk, putting aside all the rest of the tools
and tricks of trade on master’s palette can be called serious. Those who
ruminate on that record or on lack of social responsibility or on perceived
VN’s plagiarism do so with moronic seriousness and with monotony of the
assembly line or a party line. How much more serious you want these
‘critics’ to get? Or may be we should start taking them seriously because
they attached their books to Nabokov’s studies? I wouldn’t. Why? In
confrontation with assembly line genius always wins.



I think it was artistically challenging for VN to tread on the boundary of
philistine genre and produce masterpieces, almost like walking on the edge
and consistently coming through. VN used like ‘sexually and socially minded’
themes in his novels as prime coating of a kind: while it is there it does
not distracts nor attracts the reader, - that is unless the reader is
already distracted or corrupted. In that regard he was direct opposite to
George Orwell who knew how to finish all his novels in prime coating. In my
view, in case of Ada, being lepidopterist and writer, VN artistically tested
Ada and Van’s norm of acceptable while pushing them as human species to the
extreme of possible. May be extremes of one balanced the other while
producing desired effect? I also find it curious that with shift from
Russian to English literature he used more of this ‘record’ as opposed to
socially minded. Is it a coincidence that his biggest Russian (Dar) and
English (Ada) are almost direct opposites in that regard (as two reversed
first letters of their titles suggest)?



George Shimanovich



----- Original Message -----

From: Carolyn <mailto:chaiselongue@earthlink.net> Kunin

To: D. Barton Johnson <mailto:chtodel@cox.net>

Sent: Monday, September 19, 2005 5:31 PM

Subject: Re: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was



----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin <mailto:chaiselongue@earthlink.net>
To: D. Barton Johnson <mailto:chtodel@cox.net>
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2005 10:44 AM
Subject: FW: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was



Dear Dmitri,

I was very glad to read both your letter to Don and his reply. And if any of
my comments recently have added in any way to your distress I beg your
forgiveness. Your description of your father was a tonic: what a pure,
gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was.

I have no doubt that if I had met him, this is the person I should have met.
He was after all the creator of Pnin, and for that alone should be
remembered with gratitude forever.

But he also created Pnin's destroyer. He created Lolita, but he also created
Humbert & Quilty. He created Aqua, but he also created Marina who probably
murdered her, not to mention Vaniada. His ability to imagine evil,
especially sexual evil, is so fiendishly good, is it any wonder it gives
some of us pause?

The "porno-graph record" as you so wittily call it, was an aspect of your
father's work too. It just strikes me as odd (at least it strikes me now,
since the subject was recently thrust unwanted upon us) that this aspect of
your father's work has not - - so far as I can recall - - been addressed by
any of his serious critics. Or am I mistaken?

It does seem that, perhaps just for the reason that his serious critics
have chosen to ignore this aspect of his work, that it has taken on the
quality of an elephant in the room. Someone points to it, and we are all
surprise and shock. Elephant? what elephant?

But the pornographic aspect is there still and all. Maybe you are correct,
and it is the virtuosity of your father's imagination that explains its
force. His brilliant portrayal of the insane homosexual Kinbote never for a
moment caused me to think he might himself be either homosexual or insane.
No one who takes him seriously can possibly confuse him with pervert
Humbert.

But there do seem to be some things about Nabokov we still don't know.

freundliche Grüsse von Deine
Carolyn

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