Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002441, Tue, 7 Oct 1997 15:41:26 -0700

VN mentions in Edmund White's THE BURNING LIBRARY (fwd)
To: NABOKV-L@UCSBVM.ucsb.edu
Subject: VN mentions in Edmund White's THE BURNING LIBRARY

From: Earl Sampson <esampson@cu.campus.mci.net>

9) From "Thoughts on WHITE ON BLACK ON WHITE: Coleman Dowell": "Nabokov
once remarked that Freud got it all wrong. It's not that we come to love a
woman's lustrous hair and smooth skin because we associate them with sexual
pleasure. Rather the reverse: we want to sleep with a woman because we
hope, somehow, to possess that hair and skin we've admired since
childhood." (132)

10) From "Marguerite Yourcenar" (a 1993 review of Josyane Savigneau's
MARGUERITE YOURCENAR: INVENTING A LIFE): "Savigneau has a sharp sense of
the anguish this solitary genius suffered when she taught at a chummy
American college; Yourcenar's aloofness at Sarah Lawrence sounds remarkably
like Nabokov's at Cornell." (353)

11) From a 1993 essay "The Personal is Political: Queer Fiction and
Criticism": "...I'd had my first breakthrough with FORGETTING ELENA - a
novel that no critic had identified as gay and that a notorious
heterosexual, Vladimir Nabokov, had singled out for praise..." (369)

That's it. I should mention that I have not read the whole book yet (though
I admire White's intelligence and style), just the Beyond Parody article
and the cited passages, which I found using the book's index. So if the
index is accurate, these are all of them (not counting the indexed items
from the Parody article).

I was glad to see some response to the question of autobiography. I agree
with both Henderson and Martinez, and take their responses to be in
agreement with my doubts about the interviewer's use of the phrase "that
register of possible autobiography you admire in the novels of Nabokov and
Colette." White had said earlier in the interview that Collette "tantalizes
the reader with the question 'Is this autobiography or is it fiction?'",
but I don't think he meant to imply that Nabokov does the same (as the
interviewer seems to have assumed). With Nabokov we are always sharply
aware that it *is* fiction, even when the character's inner world (and even
some of his outer experience) is as congruent with Nabokov's as is Fyodor

Earl Sampson
Boulder, CO