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Preview: Comments on Dispatches from Zembla: Nabokov's Strong Opinions

Comments on Dispatches from Zembla: Nabokov's Strong Opinions





Updated: 2018-02-04T10:48:05.480-05:00

 



There is so much truth in fiction, the very nature...

2013-01-16T00:33:21.147-05:00

There is so much truth in fiction, the very nature of it allows for such deep honesty, particularly about the writer. Nabokov is not a great writer because he has perfected the art of composition, nor is he for exposing the world to the harsh realities of human nature, although it helps. Personally I cannot enjoy his writing because in his quest for perfection he forgot to be creative and his writing reeks of his own issues, it's like reading his diary. Someone like Dostoevsky, while not perfect in his delivery, was far more complex. He looked outward to a fault and examined humanity in a beautifully humble and emotional way. He too shows himself in his writing, as all inevitably do, and it's clear his art came from a much different, more sincere and creative place than Nabokov ever could have imagined for himself.



Wow, spammers these days are really getting sophis...

2011-09-02T22:37:22.833-05:00

Wow, spammers these days are really getting sophisticated. I didn't realize they appreciated literary debates! BTW, John Paul, I think your comment is dead on.



Having said that it must be added that his approa...

2011-08-27T01:26:54.091-05:00

Having said that it must be added that his approach was better than most of the other critics ... Critical works should be modeled like his 'Lectures on Literature' His understanding was profound and he understood Dostoevsky better than most critics specially those Camus and Sartres..... Attention should be paid on detail rather than the general ... Just look at his lecture on Metamorphosis and Ulysses ....
Note - I am not John Paul who is exactly what Nabokov calls a 'mediocre' reader and I would love to add imbecile



Nabokov's Lectures on literature would better ...

2011-08-27T01:08:54.947-05:00

Nabokov's Lectures on literature would better be named as 'Nabokov's history of literature' ... considering his style and rules ... His outburts on other authors are witty though .... However he reworked Dostoevsky throughout his fiction expanding his themes and images.... The most obvious ones are Lolita, Despair, The Eye,etc..... would better be named as 'Nabokov's history of literature' ... considering his style and rules ... His outburts on other authors are witty though .... However he reworked Dostoevsky throughout his fiction expanding his themes and images.... The most obvious ones are Lolita, Despair, The Eye,etc.....



since school - 40 years ago feel sick about dostoy...

2011-03-14T20:55:59.882-05:00

since school - 40 years ago feel sick about dostoyevski.

he proves his surname. "dostal..."

nabokov is not always right but i stick with his best books choice and it's works.



was sick when at school they enforced me to read d...

2011-03-14T20:52:13.060-05:00

was sick when at school they enforced me to read dostoyevski.

40 years later still feel sick about sado-mazo exercises of his.

v nabokov isnot always right, but here he is.

is



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2010-07-29T22:21:43.595-05:00

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To be fair, Nabokov was an aesthete. I like his wr...

2010-06-04T09:39:11.576-05:00

To be fair, Nabokov was an aesthete. I like his writing, but it always seems so academic, like I'm just reading the splendid prose of a master, whose style is but reference. I do not feel that my whole soul, my whole view of the world is being transformed. Dostoevsky certainly wasn't as good a prose writer, as he often admits in his own novels (a lot of the time, by the way he's using this voice as a device; and I personally think this non-literary style works for him; and sometimes in its own grotesque or gothic way it is quite beautiful) but more importantly he what he has to say is far more profound, far more touching, he taps upon something so primordial, that quite frankly Nabakov pales in comparison. Nabakov maybe a truer artist, Dostoevsky is a truer human.

And even for an aesthete Nabakov isn't that great, Joyce, Proust or Virginia woolfe make him look like a joke. He is so far behind the people he quotes as being his heroes, like Tolstoy, that it's not even worth mentioning. Don't get me wrong I like Nabakov, but I wish he would just have just stuck to writing, rather than using his own subjective disposition to influence the reading habits of others. I've read bits of his criticism and its just quite frankly nauseating. John Paul



Indeed, his opinions are often petty. And his noti...

2010-02-15T08:22:36.129-05:00

Indeed, his opinions are often petty.
And his notion of creativity while strong in many respects, also betrays a certain naivete about the supposed "lack of" social and political influences that he felt.



lol at his judgments on Faulkner, Mann and Tagore ...

2010-02-15T08:21:21.878-05:00

lol at his judgments on Faulkner, Mann and Tagore
While I'm not a huge reader or fan of Tagore, as a person of Indian origin, I respect what he meant for Indians during the colonial era when he won the Nobel Prize.
I love Nabokov for his brilliant novels and general prose. His literary criticism is interesting but not as impressive or persuasive as his literary work.
That being said, I absolutely love his choices for greatest 20th century novels, but I don't really think in terms of "greatest novel" of this or that. "Greatest" is in the eye of the beholder and varies according to social and cultural context. That being said, Kafka, Joyce and Proust are certainly among the greatest writers of the century, as is Nabokov, Faulkner and Mann!



So Joyce comes top of his 20th century list, and h...

2007-05-20T15:39:00.000-05:00

So Joyce comes top of his 20th century list, and here's Joyce on Dostoevsky:
"...he is the man more than any other who has created modern prose, and intensified it to its present-day pitch. It was his explosive power which shattered the Victorian novel with its simpering maidens and ordered commonplaces; books which were without imagination or violence."



I haven't read Ada yet. But I have heard it was Na...

2006-02-24T17:56:00.000-05:00

I haven't read Ada yet. But I have heard it was Nabokov's answer, or tribute, to Joyce.

Yes reading Nabokov's interviews are always fun! He had his own idea of what genuine literature should be and always defended it to the hilt.



Thanks for the interview link.I land up on this bl...

2006-02-24T15:42:00.000-05:00

Thanks for the interview link.I land up on this blog a two days after beginning Ada.I sometimes wonder if Nabokov was bitter that he did not get the Nobel(like Joyce).But then ,how many many people can characterize Camus and Mann as mediocrities?? But I loved the interview just for these two lines that he says,"My English is patball to Joyce's champion game".



Thanks for the comment Xavier. It always pleases m...

2005-11-09T19:59:00.000-05:00

Thanks for the comment Xavier. It always pleases me to meet a fellow Nabokov enthusiast. Even on the internet!



It’s so beautiful to see that Nabokov’s name still...

2005-11-07T02:21:00.000-05:00

It’s so beautiful to see that Nabokov’s name still causes interest among the readers all over the world. I myself discovered Nabokov not so long time ago. And fell in love with his writings immediately. By now I have finished reading all his Russian novels and short-stories and am about to deep into his English prose. I am from Russia and fortunately for me know some English. So I can enjoy all his work. Speaking about Nabokov’s lectures, yes, they may seem very subjective, but, in my opinion, Sirin had the right to judge severely all those writers because his own prose is perfect. And if you proved your ability to write then you can share your own views on literature even though they may be “wild”. I am very grateful to Nabokov for his lectures because thanks to them I found out truly literature masterpieces. Those lectures taught me to be choosy, to be if not good but definitely a better reader than I used to be. Now my eyes are open and I see that Dostoevsky’s prose is far from perfect. For instance, one of his sentences has 5 (five!!) “was”. It seems that the “prophet” never re-read and corrected his writings. Even Tolstoy has some really awkward sentences, but I think you don’t notice it in translations because translators usually improve the original text. And there is one more thing due to which I should be grateful to Nabokov. I understood that I want to be a writer. Now I have written about twenty short-stories and I keep on dreaming about composing a novel written in a perfect style. At least I have a dream.

If you feel like writing to me, here’s my e-mail xaviersolis@mail.ru



I haven't read those lectures yet. They are high u...

2005-06-05T13:17:00.000-05:00

I haven't read those lectures yet. They are high up on my to-read list!

You are right about Nabokov's voice. Sometimes I wish someone would retort back specially when he says something nasty about some writers that you rather like(Dostoevsky, a sladash comedian? huh!), but then, as you say, his voice is so disarming that you can not but nod your head in ascendance, and of course with a smile, acknowledging his sly wit.



I have his lectures on Cervantes and his Lectures ...

2005-06-05T06:41:00.000-05:00

I have his lectures on Cervantes and his Lectures on Literature with an introduction by John Updike, compiled from his University lecture notes for Ulysses, Mansfield Park, Bleak House, Swanns Way, Madam Bovary, Dr Jekyll & Mister Hyde & Metamorphosis.

What is so delightful in reading these lectures is the voice you describe, so lushly arrogant, a beautiful arrogance that is charming, persuasive, seemingly natural, witty, cutting, cheeky, authoritative, and sly.