Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001099, Wed, 17 Apr 1996 11:24:31 -0700

NABOKV-L continues the exchange between writers Donald Harington and
David Slavitt on their relationship to VN.

From: David R. Slavitt <slavitt@mail.med.upenn.edu>
To: Donald Harington <dharingt@comp.uark.edu>

My interpretation of "a mass of tired cliches" would be that my views are
widely shared. This ordinarily doesn't count much with me, because I don't
believe in a democracy of art or intellect. But in this case, I do not
dismiss as irrelevant the complaints of other blacks and Jews. I have
never taken much pleasure from reading Styron, have usually done so only
when I was paid to to it, and have therefore been forced to look for other
reasons to account for his success.

We can agree to differ, I hope, about Styron. But I also hope we can let
the discussion stray wherever it wants to go. Why on earth not? STRONG
OPINIONS ought to be expressed. VN was never shy about expressing his
views about "the merits of other novelists."
Put up my dukes?
I propose the Duke of Wellington and the Duke of Earl.
Cheers, DRS

>While I admire David Slavitt's candor in his willingness to confess his
>problems as a writer, and while I hope that both he and I will shed some
>light on the sorry lot of the novelist in the face of "the public's
>vulgarity and dumbness," I should like to suggest that we keep our
>discussion continually apropos Nabokov, and not stray into arguments on
>the merits of other novelists.
>When Slavitt attacks Styron, he had better be ready to take off his coat
>and put up his dukes. But I'd warn him before the fight begins that
>his put-down is a mass of tired cliches that have already been misspoken
>by blacks and Jews who don't like Styron messing with their territory.
>Let's stick to the subjct, shall we? Slavitt is to be commended for
>pointing out, rightly in view of our subject, that Nabokov faced and
>endured misfortunes and neglect and scoundrelous publishers that make the
>combined bad luck of both Slavitt and Harington seem as we've choked on
>our silver spoons.

David R. Slavitt-- Phone: (215) 382-3994; fax: (215) 382- 8837