Regarding Nabokov’s interest, or not, in music, thanks for the helpful quotation from  Strong Opinions.


As far as music being deceptive, I suppose you could look at it that way. I don't know about Till Eulenspiegel, but when Shostakovich and others encrypt notes corresponding to their initials (or a girlfriend’s initials) within the score, maybe Nabokov’s anagrams come to mind. And then there is Haydn’s sneaky  chord crash in the Surprise symphony; one can never quite get to the volume control in time.


Thanks again, Jansy





Don Stanley: .. Anyway, my query: is music a major factor in Nabokov’s work?"


JM:  Nabokov's contrapunctal tactics, different keys and the musicality of his sentences are a major factor in his work. In his words (SO,35):

"I am perfectly aware of the many parallels between the art forms of music and those of literature, especially in matters of structure, but what can I do if ear and brain refuse to cooperate? I have found a queer substitute for music in chess - more exactly, in the composing of chess problems."


A few pages before this admission (SO,11), in relation to fake moves in chess, the conjuror's magic and the tall stories, he said:

"I am fond of chess but deception in chess, as in art, is only part of the game; it's part of the combination, part of the delightful possibilities, illusions, vistas of thought, which can be false vistas, perhaps. I think a good combination should always contain a certain element of deception." 


How could we describe "deception" in music? Do you think that Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegel" displays a similar kind of deceptive ingredients, as those that Nabokov values in Art? ( I wonder if my question will make any sense to you).

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