Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003332, Mon, 24 Aug 1998 09:37:47 -0700

Sentimentality in VN (fwd)
Dear All:

I'm impressed by the speed and accuracy of the responses we received re
this difficult question of sentimentality in VN. Galya, I think, is
correct when she draws the distinction between "tenderness" and
"sentimentality", as Nabokov would (while admitting his inherent harshness
with others). A question I think to be considered is how may a writer
effectively and honestly deal with these bouts of sentimentalism that we as
human beings are prone to, without indulging in a manner of style
essentially sentimental? A working answer would be, indeed, to look at
VN's works with a careful, critical eye. He does very often manage to
convey these feelings without his prose falling victim to over-emotion.
Some excellent examples were quoted. I very much appreciate Rodney's take
on the matter; his buttons of "automatic compassion" seem a very good
indicator. Mary's warning about my sloppy labeling is appropriate and
correct. The role that subjectivity has to play in all of this, the role
she and Rodney speak of, is, I realize, exactly the sort of understanding
of which Nabokov would most approve. Individual consciousness must win out.

Without indulging in an overt sentimentality myself, let me thank those of
you who responded to my query. As usual on this list, good sense and a
keen intelligence walk hand in hand.


Ryan Asmussen
Administrative Assistant to the Chairman
Biomedical Engineering Department
Boston University
44 Cummington Street
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 353-8068
e-mail: rra@bu.edu