NABOKV-L post 0019058, Sun, 10 Jan 2010 15:00:41 +1300

Re: THOUGHTS: VN and Wells
This Nabokov-L submission, which I sent in on 29 January 2004, seems relevant to the discussion, and forgotten:

"Van changed his course from gravel path to velvet lawn (reversing the action of Dr. Ero, pursued by the Invisible Albino in one of the greatest novels of English literature)." Nabokov is known to admire Wells, but does he really think The Invisible Man one of the greatest novels of English literature? One that can really stand alongside the best of Austen, Dickens and Joyce?
Well, no. But Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man, whose hero is black, had already by the time of ADA been rated one of the greatest novels of American literature. Hence: the Invisible Albino. Maybe this was obvious to others, but it took me a while to see the joke, especially as he has often mentioned Wells; only this once, so far as I know, does he even imply Ellison.

Brian Boyd

On 9/01/2010, at 6:15 AM, Stan Kelly-Bootle wrote:

Frances: one answer to your unanswerable question is syllabus constraint, well known to all lecturers! VN had to choose a small, exemplary set of authors, not necessarily based on any personal ‘league table.’ Not an easy task. Recall that Jane Austen, no less, was a late, rather reluctant, addition to the lecture/essay series following intense lobbying from Bunny Wilson (they were buddies back then).

Alexey also poses an unanswerable poser! Which is not to deny the fun of allusional speculations, idle or otherwise. Statistically, one can compute the prevalence of the word ‘shadow’ (not just the ubiquitous natural phenomenon, but its hundreds of metaphorical siblings relating to impending death and the tricks of spies) and feel unconvinced of any direct, provable connection between HGW’s title and the Shade/Shadow themes of Pale Fire. Now, had Melville wrote Moby Omoplates, one might have a firmer deductive backbone.
PS: Alexey, don’t ever expect any sympathy from me: your ex-St-Petersberg-Zenit star, Arshavin (aka Short Arse), committed the unpardonable sin of scoring four goals against Liverpool FC (a memorable LFC 4, Arsenal 4 tie).
Stan Kelly-Bootle.

On 06/01/2010 12:34, "Nabokv-L" <nabokv-l@UTK.EDU<x-msg://174/nabokv-l@UTK.EDU>> wrote:

RE: [NABOKV-L] Nabokov and Carlyle
frances assa <<x-msg://174/>> <>
Tue, 5 Jan 2010 20:32:09 -0500
Vladimir Nabokov Forum <<x-msg://174/>> <>
Thank you, Alexey, for the references to Wells in VN's works. If VN really did think so highly of Wells, why did he not choose him for his essays on English novels?

Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2010 01:41:31 +0300
From: skylark05@MAIL.RU<x-msg://174/skylark05@MAIL.RU>
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Nabokov and Carlyle

Thanks for your correction. You ask whether VN really thought The Invisible Man to be one of the greatest novels in English literature. I think he did. He was a great admirer of Wells' novels and listed as many as five of them among his favorite books: The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Country of the Blind, The War of the Worlds and The First Men on the Moon (Strong Opinions, p. 175). In LATH there are allusions to Passionate Friends and The Island of Dr Moreau. What VN thought of Wells' Russia in The Shadows* (in which the author famously calls Lenin "The Dreamer in the Kremlin"), written after HGW's visit to Petrograd and Moscow of the War Communism years, is a different question. Btw., here you can read an article by Martin Gardner on Wells' book:

*Do the Shadows in Pale Fire have anything to do with the title of Wells' book, I wonder?
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