Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026255, Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:58:55 -0300

Nabokov influence (google alert to Ursula le Guin's Blog)
vladimir nabokov Daily update ⋅ June 30, 2015 The Guardian (blog) Which books didn't change your life? http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/jun/29/which-books-did-not-change-your-life-ursula-le-guin

Whether she’s weighing into Amazon <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/03/ursula-k-le-guin-amazon-bs-machine> or defending fantasy <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/08/kazuo-ishiguro-rebuffs-genre-snobbery> against the slights of literary novelists, Ursula Le Guin is always good value. This month on her blog <http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Blog2015.html> , a request for a list of her top 50 books led to a meditation on the books that had failed to change her. Asked by the New York Times which book he would require Barack Obama to read, the Pulitzer prize–winning author Jared Diamond named Niccoló Machiavelli’s 500-year-old treatise on leadership, The Prince.
He explained that while Machiavelli “is frequently dismissed today as an amoral cynic who supposedly considered the end to justify the means,” he is, in fact, “a crystal-clear realist who understands the limits and uses of power.” Whether Obama has heeded Diamond’s advice is unknown.
But what of softer forms of influence? It’s unlikely that Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita has created many paedophiles, but – as novelist David Lodge pointed out – it played a key role in the war against censorship, and has been a touchstone for literary stylists ever since.
Nabokov himself was contemptuous of the idea of influence, insisting in a Paris Review interview that James Joyce “has not influenced me in any manner whatsoever”; moreover that he was careful not to learn anything from Gogol.
He continued: “Brecht, Faulkner, Camus, many others, mean absolutely nothing to me, and I must fight a suspicion of conspiracy against my brain when I see blandly accepted as ‘great literature’ by critics and fellow authors Lady Chatterley’s copulations or the pretentious nonsense of Mr Pound, that total fake.”
Part of Nabokov’s point is that where literary influence is concerned, quality of thought and style are indivisible. He lambasted “Punningans Wake in which a cancerous growth of fancy word-tissue hardly redeems the dreadful joviality of the folklore and the easy, too easy, allegory”.

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