Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001276, Mon, 9 Sep 1996 13:07:47 -0700

Re : Nabokov and music (fwd)
From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>

The problem with indiscriminately endorsing this approach [SEE Joseph
Piercy posting below] is, of course,
that we will never know where to stop. Or should we never stop? Should we
question, for example, Nabokov's dislike for Hitler or Stalin? I am not
saying that his professed indifference to music is of the same nature --
I am just taking this approach to its logical extension. If a person
is tone deaf, he cannot help it, can he? If N. says music does not have
much meaning for him, why do we need to question it? I can even assume he
may want to be coy about Freud (although I seriously doubt it) but why
would he want to be coy about how he feels about music? What does he gain?

If you can still see musical patterns in his prose, it's obviously a
legitimate field for exploration, and we can all argue whether it's
there or not -- but it does not mean that he loved music while pretending
to be lukewarm about it. Yes, he may have been "influenced" by it despite
himself, and I may even agree with both Don Johnson and Jeff Edmunds that
there can be enough material there on VN and Music for a couple of good
articles, but a whole volume?!! That's the part I find pretty amazing. GD

> ------------------
From Joseph Piercy
> Dear Nabokovians, I must confess that I am a bit put
> out by some of the dismissive comments from members of the list concerning
> the request for ideas on Nabokov and music. Nabokov is famed for his
> furious anti-Freudian stance but that has not stopped scholars exploring
> possible relationships between the two. There seems to be a tendency to
> take everything that Nabokov says in "Strong Opinions" (and elsewhere) as
> the absolute gospel (this, I think, is very lazy scholarship). I sometimes
> feel that Nabokov reveals more about himself through what he refutes than
> what he actually conceeds. Let's all try to read between the lines a bit
> more eh ? I leave you with what I think is a not insignificant quote
> (also, ironically, from "Strong Opinions") : "The magic of prosody may
> improve upon what we call prose by bringing out the full flavour of
> meaning, but in plain prose there are also rhythmic patterns, the music of
> precise phrasing, the beat of thought rendered by recurrent peculiarities
> of idiom and intonation" ("Strong Opinions" p44).
> Joseph Piercy
> University Of Wolverhampton
> United Kingdom
> j9250308@wlv.ac.uk