Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003385, Wed, 23 Sep 1998 11:46:35 -0700

Re: VN & Sentiment (fwd)
EDITOR's NOTE. Christopher Berg is a composer, musician, and actor. His
song settings for VN's poems "Restoration," " A Discovery," "Rain," and
"A Literary Dinner" were performed at the Nabokov Centenary Festival
Concert on Sept. 11, 1998 by soprano Judith Kellock and harpist Nancy
Allen. Among the performers of other VN-related music was basso Dmitri
Nabokov. Mr. Berg, who had planned to attend, was, alas, unable to come
since his understudy in Chekhov's _Cherry Orchard_ fell ill.
In a message dated 9/22/98 11:32:02 AM EST, Jerry Friedman
<jfriedman@nnm.cc.nm.us> writes:

> Though I shouldn't give an opinion, since I haven't read many
> of Nabokov's poems and I don't read Russian, I think that kind of poetic
> greatness was denied him, just as Frost-y settling of snowflakes was denied
> to Shade.

I don't know that this is true. Clearly, VN's metier was prose, but if the
Nabokovian "shiver" criterion has any relation to "greatness," certainly such
a poem as "The Room" qualifies -- although this may be more the mixed
aesthetic/emotional shiver of Poe than solely that of "beauty plus pity" -- of
which that poem has plenty. "The Ballad of Longwood Glen" rates very high for
me as well, as does, in the non-comic, non-narrative category, "Restoration."

And "Shade"'s poem, "Pale Fire," is, despite its parodic nature, perhaps a
great poem, no? Again, plenty of beauty, plenty of pity.
On another note entirely, can anyone make a report on the concert in which
Dmitri sang at Ithaca two weeks ago -- and on which my four Nabokov songs were
also sung?

Christopher Berg