NABOKV-L post 0026083, Sat, 21 Mar 2015 11:22:11 -0300

[Sightings] Safranski and Steiner: philosopher or poliglot?

Two “sightings” of old references to V.Nabokov. The second came as a
consequence of my original quote from Safranski and it was that one which
motivated me to share it with the List. After all what did the author, in a
certain way, mean, by presenting Nabokov as…a philosopher? Or was he simply
indicating the linguistic abilities of Kojève?

“Kojève, a kind of Nabokov of European philosophy, presented Hegel as he had
never been known before – a Hegel almost indistinguishable from Heidegger.
Everybody knew Hegel’s thesis that “the real is reasonable.” Hegel was
regarded as a rationalist. And now Kojève was demonstrating that Hegel had
done nothing other than reveal the unreasonable origin of reason – in its…”

Martin Heidegger: “Between Good and Evil” by Rüdger Safranski.Translated by
Ewald Osers. Harvard University Press, 1999.

The other VN “sighting” is by G.Steiner, who also wrote a biography of
M.Heidegger, and relates to criticism and language:
ge-steiner “Roughly since the 1890s we've been getting major polyglot
literature. I consider Oscar Wilde, who wrote Salome in French, one of the
most indicative figures in all modern literature. The Irish
extraterritoriality to English is crucial. We do not know in what language
or languages or magma Beckett composed. He would never discuss the matter.
Borges is a polyglot. He says over and over that he is closer to English
than to Spanish. Above all there is Nabokov: French, Russian, English and
American English, which is different again. The novels of the English
English, like The Real Life of Sebastian Knight and Invitation to a
Beheading, are very different from, say,Lolita. So he switches four times,
if not more. The greatest single book in English poetry, many people say, is
the 1667 Milton, which includes Hebrew, Greek, Italian, Latin and English./
We forget. The monoglot condition is a Romantic obsession. Herder and Hamann
believed that you are rooted in the blood and bone of one language.” (1994,
“Interviews” by Ronald A. Sharp)

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