Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025459, Tue, 17 Jun 2014 22:54:50 -0300

[NABOKOV-L] An old newspaper cutting
While quoting some of V.NabokovÂ’s opinions about good readers and good
writers, where he emphasizes the fundamental novelty of an authorÂ’s world
and his brand of reality, I came across an old newspaper cutting by
L.F.Veríssimo, “Mentirosos” (Liars) mingling lies and truths with his
particular distorting mirror. IÂ’m submitting a rough translation to the
List, wishing I had more talent in my rendering of an authorÂ’s ideas and

LIARS - Luiz Fernando VerĂ­ssimo

During their endless conversations in Heaven, Jorge Luiz Borges, Vladimir
Nabokov and Italo Calvino like to talk about God – as long as he isn’t
around – and everybody else. The other day they were speaking ill of their
own species, the writers. According to Calvino, writers are a bad example
for the young because they are liars who are paid for their lies. They write
about occurrences that never took place and give fantastic versions of
events: they not only sign what they write but, when they distribute
autographs, theyÂ’ll sign it more than once!

For Borges the only honest writers are those that use a pen-name since they
are thereby confessing to their falseness while protecting their familyÂ’s
reputation. Nevertheless for Nabokov good writers are those that invent
stories to pass their time since this resource is the only way that stops
them from exerting their true vocation, their non-confessed volupty, of
falsifying works which actually determine life on Earth: dictionaries,
encyclopedias, constitutions, manuals, leaflets, sentencesÂ… In NabokovÂ’s
opinion, the complete works of Shakespeare are simply the consequence of his
frustration of not having written the Bible.

It was when Borges came to confess that all his life he had dreamed of
writing a fictional telephone directory. He actually had the entire book
already in his mind, from Aabilongo,Alvaro to Zoroastra,Matilde, with
special attention to a section of Besundres, a family constituted only of
widows, seventeen widows who lived in the same address, but each with her
own telephone. Only one of them, Besundres, Iriago had her name in bold
letters, a grieverÂ’s name. BorgesÂ’ telephone directory comprised numbers and
addresses in an imaginary Buenos Aires, but it also included names such as
Bell, Alexander Graham (telephone number:1) andÂ…

Silence overcame the trio when an angel arrived with tea. A poet had died
unpublished and they wanted to show him their respect.

“Mentirosos”, by LF VERÍSSIMO, Jornal do Brasil, November 25,1990.

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