Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003337, Wed, 26 Aug 1998 14:33:26 -0700

Sentimentality/Double Standard? (fwd)
From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>

Brian may have a point in suggesting that my comment was overly cynical --
even if I did say I was being only half serious -- but here is a totally
serious observation: there is a category of writers to whom VN did tend to
be rather unfair in distinguishing between "tenderness" and
"sentimentality": women. As we know, he himself admitted to being
prejudiced against them in a 1950 letter to Wilson ("I... am prejudiced,
in fact, against all women writers. They are in another class"). In
his reviews in Berlin and Paris, VN often accused emigre and Russian women
writers and poets of being overly melodramatic and sentimental. At times
he was, no doubt, right, yet his prejudice extended to some first-rate
artists as well. The case of Akhmatova is particularly telling in this
respect since she is, to many, superbly skillful and masterful in writing
about love without trivializing or sentimentalizing it, yet Nabokov
somehow failed to see it.

Galya Diment