Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001269, Sat, 7 Sep 1996 09:48:09 -0700

Re: call for proposals re VN & Music (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE: JEFF EDMUNDS <JHE@psulias.psu.edu> is the originator
ZEMBLA contains, inter alia, an excellent VN research bibliography
compiled by Dieter Zimmer and amply supplemented by Jeff Edmunds. The site
is an excellent starting point for any VN research. Below Edmunds comments
on Galya Diment's doubts about Lisa Zunshine's call for a collection of
papers on VN & Music.

In quick response to Galya Diment's message questioning the VN/Music
relationship: like other of N's self-deprecating statements (e.g. second-
rate brand of English, poor speaker, etc.) his avowed distaste and lack of
appreciation for music was, I think, somewhat hyperbolic. Even if he were
unresponsive to music to the extent he claims he was, there are obvious
nods to music in his early fiction, that is, literary forms modelled on
musical ones. Two examples come to mind. Nora Buhks has written a splendid
article on King, Queen, Knave in which she very ably argues that the entire
book is modelled on the waltz, a kind of parody of the narrative
techniques used by Bely in his Four Symphonies. And there is also the
magnificent description, rife with musical metaphors, of the match between
Luzhin and Turati. If memory serves Brian Boyd discusses this passage at
some length in an article dating from the mid 1980s.

If "music" were changed to "sound" to encompass a much broader range of aural
phenomena, the field of inquiry in Nabokov's case would no doubt be much
more fertile, as Galya implies.

Jeff Edmunds