Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005203, Sat, 24 Jun 2000 12:04:44 -0700

Re: NY Times Responds to BB Note/Critique (fwd)
**Here is another copy of the earlier posting -- in case some of you had
problems with the attachment. GD**

From: Jennifer Parsons <jdparsons@home.com>

To respond to Kurt Johnson's email on the happy thing that just occurred
on the NYT Nabokov forum, the following "recap" of sequence of posts on
the forum over the past couple days I think may also shed some light on
the reason for the NYT's change of wording for front blurb:

teddy174c - 08:16pm Jun 21, 2000 EDT (#3404 of 3486)

Not so sure about the "quirky" (again, the strange antipathy of the NYT
to the Boyd book - or just Mick's quirky way of phrasing?) in our front
mention blurb, but at least we get a mention ...

msussman - 02:21pm Jun 22, 2000 EDT (#3442 of 3486)
Mick Sussman, Books Producer, The New York Times on the Web

Is Boyd's take not "quirky?"

From the review: "Boyd's intense, at times bordering on maniacal,
investigation of the myriad puzzles embedded in 'Pale Fire' will strike
some readers as comically obsessive. His reading is deeply odd but also
eye-opening. . . . 'Shade composes his poem, dies, and then helps
Kinbote orchestrate his Commentary,' Boyd explains. You heard right.
As Boyd sees it, 'Pale Fire' is one weird whopper of a ghost story."

I'm willing to change the adjective or elaborate, but I do want to
convey the unexpectedness of his thesis.

teddy174c - 02:27pm Jun 22, 2000 EDT (#3445 of 3486)


Some of us have some problems with that review, to begin with.

"Quirky" doesn't quite do justice, I think, to the level of scholarship
and care Boyd brings to this book - nor does "comical."

So far, I've seen nothing quirky or comical - but rather some things I'd
only vaguely understood, brilliantly and deeply explained, - not crazily
or "over-the-top" explanations, so far, but ones which are supported by
evidence within the text. I know, Mick, that you are the kindest of
souls and the farthest thing from condescending - but a word like
"quirky" sounds disrespectful to me and a bit condescending about this
work of scholarship. "

Subsequently posted possible "alternative" blurbs by Philo (Rodney
Welch) and Teddy - but very happy with the one msussman ultimately chose
as per K.Johnson's email.

Today, Kurt mentioned the perhaps less than satisfactory adjective
"quirky" in that blurb to describe Boyd's book, as well, and shortly
after, it was indeed changed for the better.