NABOKV-L post 0017487, Tue, 16 Dec 2008 23:06:49 -0200

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Re: THOUGHTS: Buttons on the Left
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JM: This interesting image of "recognizing a female despite a male pseudonym" began to gain form in "The Wood-Sprite": "His shabby little coart seemed to be buttoned wrong - on the female side" (Knopf,p.3)
The woodsprite describes the narrator's "girl": "you lost your way once in a dark nook in my woods, you and some little white dress..."

I had underlined other items in the past, for example, matrons or mothers are mainly perceived in the role of "housewives", unattractive, dedicated to "keep things cozy and clean" (Russian Spoken Here,p.8).






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Abraham Adams: My friend recently pointed out that the female narrator of "A Slice of Life" (the only female narrator in all of VN's work) sounds distinctly masculine or at best a very masculine imagining of what feminine thought might be like[...] It reminds me of "The Admiralty Spire", a letter to a writer that the narrator recognizes as female despite a male pseudonym: "every sentence of yours buttons to the left".
[...] do these stories both not seem to betray some contempt for the idea of women as writers? Nabokov did insist on male translators, and Eric Naiman's article on sexual orientation in Nabokov, which I have mentioned on this list before, poses a specifically male homosexual relation between author and reader. I imagine there are more interesting responses to this pattern of naive female narration than to leave it at concluding VN was a misogynist, though that is perhaps true as well.
[EDNOTE. Also note that The Real Life of Sebastian Knight praises Claire Bishop for the "strong, almost masculine quality" of her imagination" (p. 83). -- SES]
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Retrieved from VN Archives: Laurence Hochard- 05 de Jun de 2008 [ Unfortunately I didn't locate all the other comments connected to this theme. I remember A. Sklyarenko mentioned "A Slice of Life" in that respect]
SES wrote[ on Natasha]: "It's unusual for VN to make a female character the center of consciousness in a story, particularly when the plot emphasizes her
desirability." It seems very true to me; however, I can think of another story written from the woman's perspective ("with a third person limited omniscient narrator") and it is the one that has just been discussed here: Signs and Symbols[...]

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