NABOKV-L post 0017063, Wed, 17 Sep 2008 09:59:11 -0700

Re: haunted by Nabokov’s stylish ly defe nsive comment ...
Yeah, I think N. said the two French writers he liked were Qeuneau and Grillet.

In V's biography of Sebastian Knight we learn that certain lives are..." but commentaries to the main subject". What I'm learning through TRLSK, though, is that the "dead man of the tale" always remains inaccessible and most often what we read about him is mainly a reflection of his biographer's own style (or the lack of it, as is the case of V.).
J.A.: it's that idea V. uses to describe Sebastian's first novel, the famous quote that the characters are methods of composition, like ways of painting a landscape whose harmonious fusion discloses the landscape the way the artist sees it. Isn't this precisely the real life of Sebastian Knight in a literal sense? The book is essentially a mosaic of views of the man, Goodman's, Madame Lecerf's, Pratt's, Sheldon's, the scholarly friend near the begining, and of V.'s.  One thing the book reminds me of is Orson Welles first film Citizen Kane, a story in which the man as he really was never appears. We know him only through the biased accounts of the people whom the reporter visits so that by the end we think we understand the man without ever really knowing him--they're actually quite similar works.

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