Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000251, Sun, 1 May 1994 15:40:17 -0700

vncollation#5 (fwd)
NABOKOVIANS! The following is Suellen Stringer-Hye's fifth monthly Nabokov
Collation," a collection of Nabokov references that, if nothing else,
show how widely (if not deeply) Nabokov has spread into the popular
consciousness. Also noteworthy is how frequently the cited parties are
ill-informed. Still, it is no small mark of esteem that Nabokov's name has
become a touchstone.
I have one addition to Ms. Stringer-Hye's charming ana. The April
15 TLS has a review of three works on the ancient Greek novel, a somewhat
neglected genre, now receiving its just due. Reviewer Mary Beard starts
her essay with: "`Borges and Nabokov have nothing on Apuleius," claimed
John Winkler in the introduction to _Acutor and Actor_, his influential
study of Apuleius' novel _The Golden Ass_.....

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 1994 16:50 CST
From: HSS3728@TAMZEUS.bitnet
To: nabokv-l@ucsbvm
Subject: vncollation#5

Nabokov always celebrated his birthday, warmed by Shakespeare, on
April 23, but the word is not out, for he is registered in the
Anniversary section of several newspapers as Born: April 22, 1899
thus commemorating perhaps less convivially. Not a single
newspaper noted Nabokov's preferred date.

Births: Isabella, Queen of Castille and Leon,
1451...Immanuel Kant, philosopher, 1724...Madame de
Stael(Anne-Louise-Germaine Necker, Baronne de Stael-
Holstein) writer, 1766...Lenin (Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov),
Russian Communist leader, (Old Style 10 April)
1870;...Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, novelist poet and
lepidopterist, 1899... Julius Robert Oppenheimer, physicist,

Journalists often introduce an article using a Nabokov quotation
for substance or color. Below you will find Nabokov directly
quoted or paraphrased, opening articles ranging from literature
to travel:

"In 1983, David Bethea published an engrossing critical
biography of the almost forgotten Soviet emigre poet
Vladislav Khodasevich, whom Nabokov, rarely a man to say a
kind word about contemporary authors, considered "the
greatest Russian poet that the twentieth century has yet
Dana Gioia _Washington Times_ April 24, 1994 p. B8

"'You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose
style' says Nabokov's Humbert Humbert. And so it is with Ian
Wharton, the narrator of the British Writer Will Self's
first novel _My Idea of Fun." ...More often, ala Nabokov,
they collide and combine in a series of fissions, fusions
and transmutations...(Discussing the author's style)
_New York Times_ April 24, 1994

"Death is a question of style Vladimir Nabokov once wrote.
The simultaneous deaths of Fellini and Pheonix were nothing
if not stylish."
Alex Ross _Washington Post_, November 7, 1993 p. c1
Obituary for River Pheonix and Federico Fellini

"Nabokov suggested that translations should read like

>From a review in the April 5 _Guardian_ of _The Desert of Love_
by Francois Mauriac translated by Gerald Hopkins. The
critic(Shaun Whiteside)either condemns or applauds (it is not
evident which) the translator for conceding to this dictum.

"Nabokov said there was no such thing as reading a classic
once. The same with great paintings, great music, operas
and buildings."
Marvin Bragg, _Times_ ,February 5, 1994. Feature section--a
travel piece.

"Halfway through the century, Vladimir Nabokov described
fiction as a constantly evolutionary progress. Each new
generation could go deeper than the last, could take on new
subjects, or strip away another layer from the old one. It
is impossible to imagine Homer describing childbirth in the
same detail as Tolstoy does, he said."

"The truth of the comment is on display in every extract in
this supplement. At the end of the millennium, fiction now
has an unparalled range of talent and freshness. Even
Nabokov might be delightedly bewildered by all this."

Richard Gott _The Guardian_ February 25, 1994 p. S3

Nabokov also appears within the text, adding spark and sparkle to

a wide range of subjects:

"Vladimir Nabokov titled his memoirs _Speak Memory_. Mine
will be published as _Speak Memory, and Would You Mind
Spelling the Proper Names too_

Jeff Millar _Houston Chronicle_ March 10 p. 2
Article about Southwest Conference football announcer Kern Tips
and the writers' inability to remember how Tips' name was

Reviews of Saul Bellow's new book of essays entitled _It all
Adds Up: From the Dim Past to the Uncertain Future_ often excerpt
the comments pertaining to Nabokov and note Bellow's appreciation
of Nabokov:

"More than once he(Bellow) acknowledges the "radical
mystery" at the center of transcendence: Mozart's genius,
Nabokov's aesthetic bliss, Flaubert's grand devotion.

[Bellow comments]... "A work of art, Nabokov argued,
detaches you from the world of common travail and leads you
into another world altogether. It carries you into a realm
of aesthetic bliss. Can there be anything more desirable
than aesthetic bliss?"

Gail Caldwell _Boston Globe_ April 17, 1994, p A14
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt _New York Times_ April 11, 1994.

On the political front, it is amazing how quickly the word does
get out. In an article about "Political Correctness" in the
April 24, 1994 Dallas Morning News, the _Random House Dictionary_
which defines "politically correct" as "Marked by or adhering to
a typically progressive orthodoxy on issues involving especially
race, gender, sexual affinity or ecology" is credited with being
the first to offer an authoratative definition of this term.
Random House began "tracking" this phrase 'when it first started
getting prominence.' By relying on a "network of amateur word
sleuths" whose newspaper clippings and article citations evidence
evolving usage, they are able to document the phrase's history.

In this version Chairman Mao gets no credit while Nabokov takes
it all:

"The earliest citation submitted so far is actually
'politically incorrect' In 1947, the Russian-born writer
Vladimir Nabokov used that phrase in his novel Bend Sinister
to describe the hero, a college professor living under a
totalitarian regime who tries to avoid political commitments
of any kind."

As an aside and purely for your information, second place,
according to this article, goes to Czeslaw Milosz for the actual
use of "political correctness" in the 1951 translation of
_Captive Minds_

Interestingly, a computer search done by someone at the _New York
Times_ discovered 103 mentions of "political correctness" in
print in 1988 while 1993 yielded publications mentioning
"political correctness" over 10,000 times.

Along with Chairman Mao, William Safire was not mentioned at all.

Politics, language and literature combine to question:

"What do Henry Kissinger, Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov
have in common? They all learnt a second language and used
it brilliantly, but traces of their native tongue never left
them. Conrad had an accent so thick his friends could barely
understand him. Kissinger's grinding logic is purveyed in a
guttural German accent, while Nabokov refused ever to be
interviewed in English. As he said: 'I think like a genius,
I write like a distinguished author, I speak like a child'.
Nigel Hawkes _Times_ April 9, 1994
from a review of Steven Pinker's _The Language Instinct_

>From the land of Realpolitik, literature and polity align:

"New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan finally got a chance to
meet a pol he admires, Gov Weld, about 10 days ago when a
mutual friend, Massachusetts Commission Against
Discrimination chief Michael Duffy, brokered a 30-minute
corner office sit down. Sullivan....Besides sharing
political views, Weld and Sullivan also found they are
kindred literary spirtits: As they chatted Weld quoted
Vladimir Nabokv to Sullivan, who responded with passages of
Herman Melville."

_Boston Globe_ April 24, 1994 p. 69

John Leonard, writing in _The Nation_ on March 28, 1994 blackly
observes the connection between politics and literature,
espionage and text, in an article about the counterspy Aldrich
Ames entitled "C.I.A. - An Infinity of Mirrors."

"I concluded that government intelligence itself is a
modernist construct, a paranoid text, a furious unstitching
of the magic carpet for figure or a pattern, so many Secret
Sharers and Underground Men and forged identity papers. At
Yale of course John Hollander made a poem out of The Double-
Cross System using Masterman code names as Mutt and Jeff,
Zigzag and Tricycle,Lipstick, Peppermint, Garbo and Weasel,
calling it "Reflections on Espionage". But in another way,
Nabokov had already done the same job in Pale Fire, and so
had Angleton[a WWII spy, ed.]in the "chill delirium" of his
orchids. Zembla."