Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001426, Mon, 11 Nov 1996 17:24:20 -0800

Poshlost (fwd)
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From: dub@oz.net

[I'm posting this in the hope that discussions of poshlost might be of
interest to Nabokovians or Nabokovianasters. If not, please forgive.]

Stephen Dobyns in _Best Words, Best Order_ (St. Martins, 1996) offers
his take on poshlost in his discussion of "Chekhov's Sense of Writing".
He cites VN's definition ("falsely important, the falsely beautiful,
falsely clever, the falsely attractive") and adds:

"Poshlost' leads people to treat others badly. It is a selfish
complacency that argues that where we are now is the best place to be.
It is against change, against education, against medicine, against art
and against the belief that people are equal. It is the tendency to
blame our troubles on outside forces, not on what is inside."

Adjusting the stuffings of Flaubert's Homais, I wish SD included in his
definition: belief in false progress, cheap dilettantism, tawdry
intellect; poshlost as pro change, pro education, pro medicine, etc, but
attained without cost, or available with MasterCard.

Alas, SD doesn't discuss VN in this collection of essays. But readers
interested in Rilke, Mandelstam, & Ritsos could find it fun. I haven't
gotten to SD's essays entitled "Deceptions" or "Metaphor and the
Authenticating Act of Memory" but the themes are intriguing to say the

"Our world is deteriorating in direct proportion to our inability
to tell our stories." --Andrei Codrescu