NABOKV-L post 0018968, Thu, 17 Dec 2009 00:08:39 -0200

Amis-James debate: CORRECTION
Sandy Klein: "Writing is not for the old, says Amis...writers are past their prime once they reach old age.Philip Roth, Vladimir Nabokov and John Updike, he said, were examples of how older writers lose their literary skills. Not so, said respected novelist, poet and broadcaster James, who cited Tolstoy, Goethe and Yeats as writers who hit new heights in old age.“Goethe was 81 years old when he met Ulrike von Levetzow and fell in love with her. She was 19 and he made an utter fool of himself - he was a laughing stock.“But out of it he wrote a poem - the Marienbad Elegy- which is one of the greatest poems in literature."

JM: Generalizations are generally wrong (I forgot who said that, a sure sign of encroaching dotage), a mistake Nabokov managed to avoid at all times by exercizing acute perceptiveness and adhering to his passion for detail - like Flaubert, to whom the saying 'Le bon Dieu est dans le detail' is often attributed. Was Nabokov past his prime when he wrote TOoL, or is VN's age and illness the main disturbing factor?

The way in which trivial events tinfoil-shimmer in a sentence only to reappear later, in a similarly accidental vein ( I have "Spring in Fialta" in mind and Akiko Nakata's latest article in "Nabokov Studies"), and then become part of the very essence of the thing or event being presented, is a peculiarly Nabokovian trait.
And yet, inspite of certain recurrent themes, it seems to me that this "accidental/essential shimmer" is almost absent from TOoL ( or too contrived, like the hysterical writer in his pajamas).

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: