NABOKV-L post 0018510, Thu, 13 Aug 2009 14:23:48 -0300

Re: [Fwd: Blog Sighting With Comments On Original of Laura]

A.Vinh sent
Excerpts: Nabokov, Wallace, and the Incredible Shrinking Book
...I was vaguely shocked and cautiously appalled to learn last week that Vladimir Nabokov's "new" novel, The Original of Laura, due for release in August, isn't, in fact, much of a novel at all [...] Yet, the hype that has been building around this book for years - years! - has totally eclipsed the fact that the book is, in fact, actually "138 index cards" [...]Which makes one wonder how bad a deal Playboy, which bought the rights to excerpt the new book, got. Is the Playboy tease going to be flash fiction? [...] why is it that when it comes to the world of Nabokov we are all suddenly academics? I know of few people outside of the academic world who purchase annotated works, yet I have literally dozens of friends who have purchased, and devoured, The Annotated Lolita [...] the thrill that I know I get and others must get as well of Nabokov scholarship. Enjoying what the master wrote, how he wrote it. Puzzling the pieces together.Perhaps this scholarship-craze is particular to Nabokov (a strong and unverifiable contention, I know) because his novels demand it[...] you're entering a world, Borges-like, of so many levels, of labyrinths upon labyrinths. Breaking the labyrinths down into the fundamentals of the maze (to draw this metaphor out) seems helpful not only in receiving new material from the master, but in analyzing this new composition to shed light on how the older, more familiar works were composed[...]
Next we find the author's "more problematic question", ie, "why is it that books are being published in the contemporary market that don't have the length or stamina of books" and his plea to "stop the games. If you're publishing something that's great writing but that clearly isn't a book, don't call it a book. Call it an essay. True, you probably won't be able to sell it for $15 (the list price of Wallace's speech). But on the other hand, think of all the paper you'll save."

JM: Various bloggers and reviewer seem to be intrigued by Playboy's future profits in connection to "The Original of Laura"...Perhaps this recurrent worry already belongs to their intended marketing! And yet, for the first time, I read about "flash fiction", a kind of exhibitonistic overcoat, I suppose.
A puzzling preoccupation with "paper saving" or with what should be published as "a book," as if holding a perfectly bound assemblage of printed papers were not, per se, a pleasure to be considered, in contrast to kindle and e-books...

PS: I was afraid that my unprofessional translation had misconstrued Piza's words, after reading G.Shapiro's: "Daniel Piza's review of my book, made available in English by Jansy Mello, contains a number of serious errors. For starters, Daniel Piza's article seems to suggest that the book contains "only a few images." Actually, there are twenty-eight illustrations in the book."
It was when I realized that I'd skipped a sentence, here underlined in the original: " Shapiro, também nascido na Rússia, é professor da Cornell University, nos EUA, onde Nabokov se radicou e deu aulas nos anos 40 e 50. [...] há apenas um punhado de imagens em P/B dos quadros citados." ( translation: Shapiro, who was also born in Russia, is a teacher at Cornell University, in America, where Nabokov set roots and lectured during the forties and the fifties). Piza's words translated as "only a few images," literally mean "only a handful of images."

It seems that Piza has read Proust more thoroughly than Nabokov: his comments seemed stiff and stereotyped, clogging at VN's "aristocratic views." (but I was reminded of a short-story, written in Berlin, in which Nabokov describes bathers and, almost sympathetically, a landscape full of litter and odd pieces of furniture.)

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