NABOKV-L post 0004462, Fri, 8 Oct 1999 16:27:50 -0700

Subject
Re: Edmund Morris as Charles Kinbote (fwd)
Date
Body

From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>

When I forwarded the review bit from _The New Yorker_, I didn't remember
that it was Edmund Morris, in fact, who, as a member of the notorious
Modern-Library-Greatest-Novel-Of-The-Century selection board, so lavishly
praised LOLITA. His essay appeared in August of 1998 in _The NY Times Book
Review_ and was quoted by Stephen Parker in his Cornell talk a month
later. There Morris wrote:

"We ended up with an aggregate of 404 novels, with _Lolita_ at no. 1...
[It] seemed to me about right, if only because I had just finished reading
_Lolita_ for the eighth time and was, as usual, in a state of deep despair
over the impossibility of ever writing a sentence that could compare with
any of the flashing, floating lines that Nabokov released with such
lepidopteral prodigality."

I am not sure Morris ever thought of consciously emulating Kinbote -- but
it is obvious from this statement that he didn't mind at all emulating
Nabokov, so Hendrik Hertzberg has it basically right. I have not read
the Reagan biography, and probably won't since I don't care for its
subject, thus I cannot really judge how this biography compares to
Nabokov's attempts at the genre -- as in bios of Gogol and Chernyshevsky.
Won't be surprised, though, if there are some striking similarities,
chief among them, of course, the co-existence of real and fictional
historical characters. That Morris refused to provide an explanation of
this technique in the preface to the book is also, of course, very
Nabokovian.

Galya Diment