Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000168, Thu, 6 Jan 1994 10:08:54 -0800

I offer the following item in response to Galya Diment's intriguing
thoughts on VN's MARY & F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE GREAT GATSBY. The
current NEW YORKER (Jan. 10) has an article by John Seabrook called
"E-Mail from Bill"--"Bill" being Bill Gates of Microsoft fame. Gates,
sometimes described as the proto-technonerd (and more accurately as the
second richest man the country) confided to Seabrook that THE GREAT GATSBY
is one of his favorite books. So much so that he dressed as Gatsby for his
30th birthday party and again for his engagement party. His bride-to-be
(and as-of-this-week wife) dressed as Daisy Buchanan. Gates' comments
that Gatsby had a dream which he pursued without thought of its reality or
of his failure. Fitzgerald is presenting a romantic figure which
symbolizes in part America and its people.
All this is admittedly remote from Nabokov, but it underlines the
importance of THE GG as an American icon. (Of course, it was just being
rediscovered when VN made his dismissive comment about it.) The question
all this leads to in connection with Galya Diment's paper is whether VN
was actually responding to the novel in terms of a latent comparison with
his own early novel or in terms of other considerations. We know that VN
professed to admire other Fitzgerald work. Perhaps his negative reaction
to THE GG related to broader--or at least different--thematic issues than
Galya suggests. One wonders what VN would have made of Bill Gates'
A final thought. Fitzgerald's TENDER IS THE NIGHT might make an
even more interesting point of comparison with Nabokov.