Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005214, Mon, 26 Jun 2000 09:47:42 -0700

Re: Nab Forum-- NYTimes Forum Select Boyd's Pale Fire (fwd)
From: Thomas Bolt <bolt@tbolt.com>

Forgive me if I wasn't clear: "quirky" is a publishing code word.
Publishing insiders use it as shorthand to describe a certain
kind of book.

The "idiots in publishing" are not all people in publishing
but those who lack the time to read a book and understand
it yet have the time to pretend to classify it.

As people who have experienced or studied racist language
(the most obvious example) know, a code word ("That boy
Hughes certainly is *articulate*) is often an insult or at the
least a dismissal wrapped up in an underpowered compliment.

Code words are sometimes used innocently, but they can
nevertheless touch a nerve, and that touched mine.

As for the dictionary definition, calling Nabokov "quirky"
is akin to calling Proust quaint, Shakespeare talented,
Wilde a clever chap. Perhaps true, but not true enough.
Humbert's predilictions are not peccadillos.


Beowulf is Quirky, to make a scholarly pun. Lovers of
Old Anguish with know what I mean. Others can ask
their Grammar.