NABOKV-L post 0023917, Sat, 13 Apr 2013 07:31:33 -0700

John Bailey, Sartre, etsy
Dear Jansy,

Sartre was a toad. I too was once a wide eyed adolescent and wasted too much
time trying to read his l'Etre et le Neant. What a waste. But I survived. The
toad actually loved that mass murderer Mao Tse Tung - well, he wasn't alone in
that, was he?

Bailey is too intelligent to be swayed by that toad. By the way, I once got very
angry with VN for his dismissal of such wonderful writers as Pasternak and
Albert Schweitzer, the latter of whom was related to Sartre. Schweitzer's
biography (forget the author's name) is fascinating. Like Einstein he was a very
slow starter, but once a teacher understood how his mind worked and learned how
to intrigue the young genius, there was no stopping him. I do not recall the
details now, but it seems to me that Sartre as his Alsatian cousin knew him when
they were both young does not come off well at all.


p.s. As to VN's sado-masochistic tendencies, like Marianne Moore's toads, they
are all too real. But, you know, what artist doesn't have his little quirks
and/or vices? The pinch of salt that leavens the loaf and all that. Let's not
try to make saints of our heroes.


* C.Kunin, you mentioned John Bailey in a recent posting. At the time I was
reminded of Iris Murdoch, whose booklet on Sartre I read while still a wide-eyed
adolescent. It occurred to me that Bailey might have been influenced
by Sartre's negative views on Nabokov - but I couldn't find the article to
indicate it to you or to check that hunch. After I re-read. Edmund Wilson's
famous article, with his mention to Nabokov's "sado-masochistic
tendencies...noted by Sartre," I was led back to that one query of yours. It's
not a very good explanation, sure, but perhaps it can encourage others to
ponder the eggs you've been offering to the VN-L...

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