NABOKV-L post 0025089, Sat, 15 Feb 2014 19:59:21 +0100

Re: [Old SIGHTING] Nabokov's Berlin: Nabokov, art and evil
As an aside in relation to VN’s views on Faulkner, see Wyndham Lewis’s devastating critique of William Faulkner in “William Faulkner: The Moralist with a Corn Cob” in his Men Without Art [1934] (Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1987) –VN would have agreed with much in that article.

A. Bouazza

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of Jansy Mello
Sent: woensdag 12 februari 2014 12:07
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] [Old SIGHTING] Nabokov's Berlin: Nabokov, art and evil

Deborah Martinsen: " The confession is not Ivan’s but Stavrogin’s from the chapter of Demons that Katkov excised – “At Tikhon’s.” There are multiple references to Ivan’s “all is permitted” in Lolita. (I have an unpublished conference paper on them.)

Jansy Mello: Yesterday I began to read Carson McCullers for the first time and this Brazilian translation, from the collected "The Mortgaged Heart," carries some surprises. For example, the brief article about "Russian Realists and literature in the South" (I have no access to the original 1941 text, with which you must all be familiar).

Carson McCullers compares the writers of the end of the XIXth C. in Russia to the Americans in the early twentieth. For her, tragedy and farse are some of the components shared by Russian realist and Southern writers by their emphasis on life's meaninglessness and harshness - or the unimportance of human life. Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" and William Faulkner's "As I lay dying", for example, are brought together to emphasize the blend of deep hopelessness and comicity that engage the involuntary and complicitous laughter of the reader who is confronted with cruel and agonizing scenes - a similar argument that I've found applied to the Humbert Humbert effect, when it numbs the sympathetic reader to his cruelty to Lolita.

Nabokov dismissed Faulkner's "corn-cobby" writing (SO*) - and I cannot remember any other critical assessment by him in relation to the writers McCullers has deftly assembled in a few paragraphs when she elaborated over morality and cruelty.


* - I have been perplexed and amused by fabricated notions about so-called "great books." That, for instance, Mann's asinine "Death in Venice," or Pasternak's melodramatic, vilely written "Dr. Zhivago," or Faulkner's corn-cobby chronicles can be considered "masterpieces" or at least what journalists term "great books," is to me the sort of absurd delusion as when a hypnotized person makes love to a chair."


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