Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004423, Mon, 27 Sep 1999 10:53:05 -0700

Re: George Steiner's New Yorker article debunking Nabokov
From: Tom Bolt <bolt@tbolt.com>

George Steiner's and Edmund Wilson's
reactions to Nabokov have, of course,
quite different histories, but I've
always suspected that they have something
fundamental in common: sensibilities
steeped in Modernism, particularly
the Modernism magnetized to T.S. Eliot,
encountering something of a very
different order.

Whether we call it Postmodernism or
decadence, or just plain Nabokov,
it not only does not fit in with
the Program, it tends to make fun
of it, turn it inside out, or run
loopy elipses around it. To that
peculiarly inelastic Modernist
sensibility, it (whatever IT is)
cannot be "great," and cannot help
but be irritating.

Doesn't help that VN, through his
demonically energetic humor, tends
to make the older modes look corny
and flat. To some it was about time;
to others, such as EW, it was (or so
I suspect) unbelievable, distasteful,
and even frightening. Above all, it
was a tectonic shift in emphasis
and even in thinking.