NABOKV-L post 0023898, Wed, 10 Apr 2013 15:31:10 -0700

Re: QUERY: VN on compassion in PNIN
Chaqu'un a son gout.

But seriously. Read Galya Diment's book on Pnin then tell me I'm wrong. I find
that Nabokov, like most artists, is engaged in a game of peek a boo. There is a
need to hide, and a need to be found out that war with each other. Nabokov is an
artist like any other, at least in this respect.

As a chess cum riddle master, he love this game. My opinion, only, of course.
Why play the game if you aren't willing to risk being found out? If you are only
willing to win - don't play the game.


From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Wed, April 10, 2013 1:26:38 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] QUERY: VN on compassion in PNIN

C. Kunin:" So 'compassionate' might have struck VN as a complete
misunderstanding of his real intent of expiation, and thus an insult. The
narrator/author is not compassionate, is he? He is dispassionate, selfish and
capable of cruelty. The subject of this darker side of VN has been discussed on
the List before, but it's been a while. It was kind of the author, though, in
Pale Fire, to let us see that Pnin himself survived his author's best intentions
to do away with him."
Brian " I bet Stephen is absolutely correct. McConkey probably would have been
better off saying he hated Pnin. Not to say that VN couldn't have been more
charitable, but he did have a visceral aversion to platitudes."

Jansy Mello: The interactions between Nabokov and his occasional
interviewers strike me as instrumental to expose a particular VNian trait.
Namely, he seems to be always hoping that someone got at least one of his most
cherished points (the hidden patterns, for example). This hope was stronger
than any pedagogical project or demonstration (this is what Jay Epstein's
article showed to me).
We all know that VN's writings are multi-level and enclose or disclose
different intentions and feelings. We can assume that VV Nabokov was as capable
of compassion (even charity,on occasion) as he was able to understand and
exert cruelty. In his writings we encounter his extraordinary talent to portray
the minds of criminals and victims alike, or innocence and guilt, that is, to
portray humanity's mixture of conflicting emotions and virtues (this is why I
wonder about any predominant penitential intentions in "Pnin") - without
excluding an ineffable striving for both "good-bad" and
"strong-weak" characters.

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