Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002295, Fri, 22 Aug 1997 08:31:25 -0700

To: Nabokov <Nabokv-L@UCSBVM.ucsb.edu>

From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>

Roger Angell's LO LOVE, HIGH ROMANCE, subtitled "Can we agree at last that
Vladimir Nabokov's twisted, ironic shocker is the greatest American love
story of them all?", appears in the special "Love" issue of THE NEW
YORKER. It's surrounded by articles on "Dr. Kinsey's secret life," "Why
Prince Charles loves Camilla," love letters by famous and infamous, and
poems, among which one is entitled "On Carnal Love." All that brings to
mind Nabokov's complaint to Wilson that his book, just published by
Olympia Press, is advertized on the same page as "Books on Sex, with
patients 'telling their case histories in their own words.'" "I am
extremely irritated by the turn my nymphet's destiny in taking," Nabokov
continues in the same letter (NWL, Feb. 29, 1956, p. 298).

The article itself does not cover much new ground but is a fine and
intelligent piece of evaluation. It recounts the history of the novel's
reception, including decidedly mixed feelings about its subject matter on
the part of some of the leading intellectuals and literati in the country
(among them, The New Yorker's very own Katharine White). It traces the
origins of the novel back to "The Magician" which Angell erroneously
labels as a "never published short story version of the same basic
situation" (it was, of course, published posthumously by Dmitri Nabokov as
"The Enchanter" in 1986).

Below is the passage that perhaps best summarizes the author's reasons for
admiring and esteeming Nabokov as highly as he does:

"Nabokov's elusiveness, it dawns on us, is not just playful. Forever
changing sides and withholding judgment, he has contrived to forestall
both our outrage at his nasty hero and our contemptuous dismissal of his
trivial, complicit Juliet. His irony is never patronizing or angry, and
for this alone he appears -- what shall we call it? -- premodern in his
patient seriousness and relentless search for another level."

The full article is four pages long, includes two virtually (but
not totally) identical pictures of Nabokov as taken by Bert Stern in
1962, and is located in the magazine's BOOKS section.

Galya Diment