NABOKV-L post 0022771, Mon, 30 Apr 2012 21:07:49 -0700

Bunny, Judy & Volodya?
In today's L.A. Times, I read an interesting review of actress Tracie
Bennett's performance portraying Judy Garland at the end of her life
in a Broadway play called "Rainbow." To my surprise and delight, the
reviewer Charles McNulty in his analysis of the singer's difficult
last years actually quotes Edmund Wilson.

"This portrayal of Garland brought back to me the provocative idea
proposed long ago by literary critic Edmund Wilson in his classic
treatise 'The Wound and the Bow' that 'genius and disease, like
strength and mutilation, may be inextricably bound up together.'
Wilson is principally referring to psychological disorders and the way
exceptional artistic ability is often predicated on psychic wounds.
"Talent is a mystery, but success requires enormous drive and a
refusal to be content with ordinary standards. That perfectionist
streak, as treacherous as it is necessary, has to come from somewhere,
even if that somewhere is a void, a place that is missing what might
have been filled in childhood."

These remarks seemed to me particularly striking in view of recent
discussions here of PF & Lolita. They remind me, too, that I have felt
something important is missing in our knowledge of the VN biography -
yes, there is the traumatic loss of homeland and father, but these
occurred in adulthood - early adulthood, but adulthood nonetheless. Do
they really explain the dark side of Nabokov's works? or that nagging
and troubling fact of his life - the chronic insomnia? If the insomnia
had a physical explanation why has this not been discussed? or have I
missed it?

I continue to feel that there is something seriously lacking in our
understanding of VV (!?) Nabokov. I was disappointed in the general
lack of interest in my discovery of the fact that the Nabokov family
had in its collection a painting by the truly weird artist Nikolay
Kalmakov. I thought it threw some light on a hitherto unknown aspect
of that family, one worth pursuing. Since no one else seems
interested, I am hoping to do more research myself into the Kalmakov-
Nabokov connection.

In any event, my sorely tried faith in the Los Angeles Times has been
somewhat restored.

C Kunin

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