Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008906, Fri, 14 Nov 2003 09:08:32 -0800

Fw: Vladimir Nabokov and John Fowles
EDNOTE. The Fowles/Nabokov comparison has its points but VN, as I recall,
took a covert swipe at "The French Lieutenant's Woman" that was on a best
seller list at the same time one of his own books.ADA, was it?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sergej Aksenov" <sa354@cam.ac.uk>
> ----------------- Message requiring your approval (61
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> John Fowles is likened to VN in a TLS article. The first three
> paragraphs where VN is mentioned are reproduced below. Full text is at
> http://www.the-tls.co.uk/this_week/story.aspx?story_id=2105119
> Trying to like John Fowles
> Frederic Raphael
> 13 November 2003
> Full story displayed
> John Fowles
> Volume One
> Edited by Charles Drazin
> 668pp. Cape. £30.
> 0 224 06911 X
> In his first published essay, ‘Entomology for a Schoolboy’, written
> when he was twelve, the future author of The Collector gave an account
> of how to trap moths by smearing a mixture of honey and beer on a tree.
> Throughout his life, love of nature would remain as central to him as
> the subsequent pursuit of literature.” Charles Drazin’s introduction to
> The Journals implies an affinity between John Fowles and Vladimir
> Nabokov, another entomologist, whose Lolita was a churrigueresque
> prefiguration of Fowles’s first published novel. The pinning of
> specimens, and its tender heartlessness, is emblematic of both authors.
> Literary dandyism is the corollary of the entomologist’s piercing
> montage. Devising an English more pointed than any native speaker’s,
> Nabokov matched innovative fluency with flaunted foreignness. Fowles,
> by contrast, refreshed the novel only formally: although he seldom
> contrived a striking phrase, he broke, or at least cracked, the
> narrative mould in each of the successful trio of novels – The
> Collector, The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman – that he
> published in the 1960s, though The Magus evidently germinated earlier,
> during the author’s ungrateful employment as a schoolmaster on the
> Greek island of Spetsai in the early 1950s. (Not unlike Lolita, it took
> a decade-and-a-half to attain its full floweriness.)
> Nabokov too had been a sedulous, reluctant teacher of English, albeit
> at American universities rather than at the Anargyrios and
> Korgialeneios School, a pseudo-Arnoldian establishment where Fowles
> relieved dutiful usherdom first by playing the chastely fervent
> erastes, then with passionate adultery; his first wife, Elizabeth, who
> died in 1990, was married to a colleague, with whom she had a
> two-year-old daughter, Anna. All four are to be seen smiling (except
> for Anna) in a photograph in which they are ranged, in a slanting
> straight line, on a Greek balustrade. Once married, Fowles and
> Elizabeth lived in penury in London while he taught, ignominiously, at
> St Godric’s, a secretarial college where, having found the love of his
> life, he also had furtive crushes on glamorous foreign students. The
> entrapment and sequestration of girls was, he admits, a constant
> fantasy which took printable form in The Collector.