NABOKV-L post 0017633, Thu, 29 Jan 2009 21:31:12 -0800

Re: Albion
Wasn't the only Updike novel that Nabokov praised The Centaur? I found his prose an odd mix of exact rhythmed description and bits and pieces of his influences. I've heard him say his major ones were Proust (?!!) and the english conversation novelist something or other Green. I remember thinking Couples had an unfortunate and grinding Joyless Joycean quality, but I adored his short story A&P. I also thought he did a very amusing review of The Defense back in the sixties collected in his first book chat Occasional Prose. Didn't really care for his review of N's collected short stories (in More Matter) where he said that he had lost his initial ecstatic response to N.'s prose, that there were some paradises one could never return to. He also maintained (as did Edmund White) that Nabokov as writer was the total austere aristocrat who was somehow ("charmingly", I recall) able to throw himself into the sordid world of Berlin pension life that he could
never really belong to--as if a real artist could ever belong anywhere! I remember thinking this didn't at all correspond to my Nabokov, who, as Mary Mccarthy once noted of all great writers, was a fantastic gossip; a novelist who loved to wallow in the colorfully unpleasant, prey to all the petty foibles of that petty world, no matter how apart from it he may have been. As for David Foster Wallace's comment, I can only say that this is an amusing criticism coming from someone who ended his life by committing suicide, the ultimate act of solipsism. I was never bothered by all Updike's sex; I was bothered by its being neither sexy nor audaciously perverse enough, merely the tepid (if occasionally poetic) expression of a rather middle class variety of lust gunked up in a lot of "ambitious" fancy writing. For a really biting review of Updike I suggest Gore Vidal's hilarious, if probably unfair, piece "Rabbit's Burrow" collected in The American
Empire, essays from 1992 to 2000. It's wonderfully bitchy. In any case I wish the best for his remains. 

--- On Thu, 1/29/09, Stan Kelly-Bootle <skb@BOOTLE.BIZ> wrote:

From: Stan Kelly-Bootle <skb@BOOTLE.BIZ>
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Albion
Date: Thursday, January 29, 2009, 1:50 AM

AS/JM: for the Irish, it’s always PERFIDIOUS ALBION! The phrase is indivisibule!

While online: afraid I quickly tired of Updike’s explicit sex; after 2 promising rabbits! Did VN’s admiration last longer than mine?Just read the late David Foster Wallace’s biting critique quoted in today’s Times: “No US novelist has mapped the solipsist’s terrain better than Updike, whose rise in the 60s and 70s establshed him as both chronicler and voice of probably the single most self-absorbed generation since Louis XIV.”


On 27/01/2009 00:49, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

AS: Jansy tells me that I should have mentioned that Albion is the name of the island of Great Britain.
JM: For the benefit of foreign readers, I mean... During my childhood "Albion"  was merely a brand of "gomma arabica" used at school.

btw: There's a mistake in my last posting on VN and R.Jacobson. The word "Formalist" was missing.
Cf. Michael Glynn's "Vladimir Nabokov: Bergsonian and Russian Formalist Influences in his novels" (palgrave,macmillan,2007)   

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