NABOKV-L post 0019210, Sat, 23 Jan 2010 13:34:47 -0200

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[NABOKOV-L] [Query] Stream of Consciousness and Nabokov
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Dear List,

It's almost impossible for me to keep up with our informal exchanges and simultaneously find all the necessary quotes and references in Nabokov.
I cannot remember where Nabokov mentions that his favorite work of Beckett's is "Molloy," his dismissive comments about Virginia Woolf and, more importantly, probably in "Strong Opinions," his impatient rebuttal concerning James Joyce's famous "stream-of-consciousness" episode, in "Ulysses," saying that Tolstoy had employed it long before him, in Anna Karenin.

When I read Arthur Schnitzler's "Fraulein Else" yesterday, I was struck by this Viennese author's employment of it.
I decided to check the date to compare it with Tolstoy's and was surprised by the list of names of authors who have employed it in one or in all of their works. Before Tolstoy, there was Dostoevsky ...Eliot's came before Joyce's, too.*

Nabokov was familiar with the works of William James (and lived close to one of his sons, Billy), his coinage of the word was first published in 1890 (therefore later than some of the literary works it has been applied to).

[QUERY] I don't think that Nabokov's various "I" (Shade, Van Veen, Wild) had ever seriously engaged in this process but, somehow, it seems that Nabokov had given it several tries.
Is there any published work available about Nabokov and literary Stream of Consciousness?

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From Wikipedia:
* In stream of consciousness, the speaker's thought processes are more often depicted as overheard in the mind (or addressed to oneself); it is primarily a fictional device. The term was introduced to the field of literary studies from that of psychology, where it was coined by philosopher and psychologist William James.
Several notable works employing stream of consciousness are:Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground (1864)
Lev Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1873-77) Édouard Dujardin's Les Lauriers sont coupés (1888) Knut Hamsun's Hunger (1890) and Mysteries (1892) Marcel Proust In Search of Lost Time, (or À la recherche du temps perdu ) 1913 - 1927
Arthur Schnitzler's Lieutenant Gustl (1900), 'Fräulein Else (1924) T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915)
Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage (1915-28) James Joyce's Eveline (1914) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) Ulysses (1922) - in particular Molly Bloom's Soliloquy Finnegans Wake (1939) Italo Svevo's La coscienza di Zeno (1923) Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (1925) To the Lighthouse (1927) The Waves (1931) ...J. D. Salinger's Seymour: An Introduction (1963) ...Samuel Beckett's 'trilogy' : Molloy (1951) Malone Dies (1951) The Unnamable (1953)...Julio Cortázar's Rayuela (Hopscotch) (1963) Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (1973) ...Clarice Lispector's whole work. Wang Meng's Voices of Spring Jack Feldstein's stream-of-consciousness neon animations. Rabih Alameddine's Koolaids: The Art of War (1998), an example of a postmodern application of Stream of Consciousness The technique has been parodied, for example, by David Lodge in the final chapter of The British Museum Is Falling Down.
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William James is given credit for the concept. He was enormously skeptical about using introspection as a technique to understand the stream of consciousness. "The attempt at introspective analysis in these cases is in fact like seizing a spinning top to catch its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks." (James, William (1890), The Principles of Psychology. ed. George A. Miller, Harvard University Press, 1983, ISBN 0-674-70625-0 )

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