NABOKV-L post 0016944, Thu, 21 Aug 2008 22:20:30 -0700

Re: Fw: [NABOKV-L] [NABOKOV-L] A muderder's fancy prose

J.Mello: I was trying to follow things effable and ineffable in VN's style, but your comment brought up a very important point: HH's prurience in relation to obscene words, not matched by any constraint in relation to "unsocial" acts.
J.A.: I realized you were looking more deeply into the epistemological quiddity of the phrase, but I'm such a literalist about the craft of story-telling that I couldn't resist going the direction I did, not to mention that I'm still not quite certain what the precise boundaries of your speculation on this front are and am perhaps too dense to dive in that pool; I'll likely bang my head on the side if I try.

Eichmann, The Toad, HH are "obscene" ( in its most casual "evil" sense), independently of erotic/pornographic acts or words.
Nabokov, according to you, "turns an aesthetic limitation into an amazing advantage" by applying it to "dramatize the character´s slimy self-serving dishonesty." but it also remains possible to create legitimate erotic/obscene art that lies "outside the scene" of a culture or an epoch - as, for example, we find in VN's reference to Ben Sirine, "The Perfumed Garden" and "A Thousand Nights and one Night" (I'm quoting from memory, only). Nabokov mentions Japanese engravings, Rabelais, Swift, Sappho ( and its French imitation "Les Chansons de Bilitys") usually, as in Rabelais and Swift, in association to "filth" (like the eery scenes of a landlord in KQK, disgustingly similar to Gradus' in front of a mirror). Kinbote, on the contrary, often enjoys a margin of freedom of euphemisms when he describes Charles, the Beloved's adventures in Zembla.
J.A.: Do you mean that Kinbote often experiences a freedom from euphemisms? As in he's straightforward and direct about sexuality? Cause I would disagree. Don't K and a childhood friend retire to the bathroom together at one point to enjoy "manly pleasures"? How exactly does Kinbote pick up all those boys he mentions, and what precisely does he do with them? In fact I always thought he was a lot more vague than H.H., but perhaps I misunderstood your point. I know I don't know what you mean by the obscene being "outside the scene", that sounds a little like deconstructionist talk.
Pretty is as pretty does? Anyway, the mistery remains: what's in a "fancy prose style" ?
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