Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027099, Thu, 7 Jul 2016 19:01:09 +0000

Re: [old SIGHTING] List of 10 funniest books (Publishers
Weekly,May 2016)

Let me make a counter-suggestion to the inclusion of Pnin in the "Ten Funniest Books." The first time I read Pnin, yes, I did find it "profoundly funny," but in all my subsequent readings I found it much more profoundly sad. As Nabokov says, "Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader" (Lectures on Literature 3; emphasis Nabokov's).

Eric Hyman
Professor of English
Department of English
Butler 133
Fayetteville State University
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(910) 672-1901

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of Jansy Mello
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2016 4:39 PM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] [old SIGHTING] List of 10 funniest books (Publishers Weekly,May 2016)


The 10 Funniest Books by Adam Ehrlich Sachs
7. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
Pnin, Nabokov's more straightforward novel of émigré dislocation, might be funnier joke for joke, but Pale Fireis, I think, more profoundly funny, more fundamentally funny, since the funniness is built into the form itself: our mad narrator Charles Kinbote constructs an entire world through a misreading of John Shade's poignant poem about the suicide of his daughter. (I've also always liked this bit, from Kinbote interacting with his academic colleagues: "Another tormentor inquired if it was true that I had installed two ping-pong tables in my basement. I asked, was it a crime? No, he said, but why two? 'Is that a crime?' I countered.")
The other authors Adam Sachs selected are:
1. Walking by Thomas Bernhard
2. Watt by Samuel Beckett
3. House of Holes by Nicholson Baker
4. A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett
5. The Parable of the Blind by Gert Hofmann
6. Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms by Daniil Kharms
8. Bouvard and Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert
9. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodieby Muriel Spark
10. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
The writer ends his list noting that "No one needs another intro to Vonnegut, so, instead, a random, nonchronological, nonexhaustive list of some other writers who make me laugh: Gogol, Salinger, Barthelme, Philip Roth, Flann O'Brien, Lydia Davis, George Saunders, Dahl, Donald Antrim, Chris Bachelder, Sholem Aleichem, Elif Batuman, Patrick deWitt, Mallory Ortberg, Dostoyevsky, Waugh, Proust, Gary Shteyngart, Moyshe Kulbak, Lars Iyer, Nietzsche, Heller, Hamsun, Rivka Galchen, Padgett Powell, Cervantes, Kafka, Jack Handey."

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