Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003368, Fri, 18 Sep 1998 11:45:41 -0700

Re: VN & Sentiment (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Anatoly Vorobey <mellon@pobox.com>

> Tim Henderson<thenders@mail.lanline.com> wrote:

[about a definition of 'sentimental' in _Eugene Onegin_'s commentary]

> Does this strike anyone else as a definition that fits the word
> "melodramatic" better than "sentimental" in the sense of the Salinger
> quote discussed earlier -- roughly, an unnatural degree of 'tenderness'
I would say that while the definition itself is little more than a
cute silly saying (a "sentimental" novel need not include "misdaventures
of conventional virtue", much less be confined to them), generally
Nabokov's "sentimental" is indeed close to "melodramatic", although
the former is more general.

Nor is Nabokov himself free from the disease of sentimentality on his
own terms, or so it would seem to me. I have in mind, for instance, the
horrible and unbearably melodramatic poem from "Dar" quote below, and
would be interested in what others think of its virtues. The Russian
version has somewhat more of poshlust in it, while the English
translation is somewhat worse of a poem, generally.

One night between sunset and river Odnazhdy my pod vecher oba
On the old bridge we stood, you and I. Stoyali na starom mostu.
Will you ever forget it, I quieried, Skazhi mne, sprosil ya, do groba
That particular swift that went by? zapomnish - von lastochku tu?
And you answered, so earnestly: Never! I ty otvechala: eshe by!
And what sobs made us suddenly shiver, I kak my zaplakali oba,
What a cry life emitted in flight! kak vskriknula zhizn' na letu...
Till we die, till tomorrow, for ever, Do zavtra, naveki, do groba, -
You and I on that old bridge on night. odnazhdy, na starom mostu...

Anatoly Vorobey,
mellon@pobox.com http://pobox.com/~mellon/
"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly" - G.K.Chesterton