JM: It took a long time to dawn
on me that, in most cases, humorous writing is a cultural thing bound
by time and space. Nabokov's is an exception for it teases some from beyond
the tomb and may stimulate even his most acerbic critics into
spilling jokes of their own. Some are not funny, though.
A similar experience arose from my
former overdue sighting (Malcom
Bradbury's anthology of comic writing reports on "The Assistant Producer"
and the anthologist's comments on Borges's and Nabokov's style.)
His samples of anglophone comicity at
times become a most inbecoming creature.
For example, I'd jumped several chapters to get a peek at Amis, père and fils,
before I landed on a most uncomfortable pseudo-Nabokovian territory. I
mean Clive Sinclair's "Uncle Vlad" (p.175-186), a story
that, for M.Bradbury, constitutes "a fine example of what Sinclair
himself calls 'bibliosexuality'...the sexy play of the story". It
is full of Vlad the impaler, butterfly nets and pins, Crêpes Flambés
aux Papillons, spinal quivers, a countess Ada who, like her antoinette
putative precursor, encourages plebeians to "eat words," or
cousin Madeleine's moony barroque indecisions concerning chess games,
crossword puzzles and paronomasia - for "we all have our acrostics
to bear" ("many alive devils enliven living even in novel evils").
For Bradbury, Sinclair has a "gift for
macabre parody and taste for complex literary illusion" reminiscent of
"Vladimir Nabokov, the great and teasing writer of modern fictional play."
At least he didn't include any comment about Sinclair's taste and sensibility,
nor any ability of his to catch a Nabokovian real butterfly.
No bibliosexuality for me, I hope, when I
finally lay my hands on TOoL.