NABOKV-L post 0017663, Fri, 6 Feb 2009 07:04:23 -0200

Re: Updike on Nabokov
A.Bouazza: Following Mr Aisenberg's posting, I picked up Updike's "More Matters" and found his review of VN's Collected Short Stories more laudatory than implied...
J.Aisenberg: I went and re-read the review myself and darned if my memory hadn't smudged things up just as Bouazza said. I think I have oddly blurred together some different reviews, and exagerated a couple of the critiques in Updike's [...] in the end he makes a curious sort of argument which tries, as Edmund White also did [...], to separate Nabokov's puzzles and puns from his lyrical descriptions of the everyday, which of course can't be done [...] we might have never have gotten a real taste of his sharp satirical insights about human behavior which suffuses his best work.

JM: Return trips to paradise are risky, but still possible? From Bouazza's excerpts I witnessed Updike's actual revisitations (cf. “Sirin,” his Russian pen-name, means “bird of paradise”; it was Nabokov’s preening gift to stir paradisiacal intimations wherever he alighted." More Matter, pp. 287-290 ) and a cunning conflation of birds, like the peacock and "sirin",by admitting to VN's "preening gift".
As VN often let us know: "In Arcadia Ego." ( one cannot isolate paradise and hell).Besides, it seems to me that Updike was complaining about the hefty posthumous edition, not about the short-stories themselves.
J.Aisenberg draws an important point when he stresses that it is impossible to separate Nabokov's puzzles and puns from his lyrical descriptions - as he shows in his well chosen examples of wording and by recognizing VN's ( never moralistic in its compassion, I must add) acute perception of human behavior.

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