NABOKV-L post 0014281, Mon, 4 Dec 2006 22:44:58 -0500

Subject
JM on reading VN as an artist
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CHW wrote: " Part of the problem in this discussion is that there is no
single good word to describe a composition which is verse rather than
poetry. All such compositions, which either rhyme or scan or are cut up
into discrete lines, have to be called "poems". Pope's Dunciad has to be
called a "poem", even though, to my contrariwise English-educated mind,
and those minds of a similar persuasion, it is verse, not poetry."
Alexey said he reads Nabokov "as an artist", not as a mystic.
JM: Perhaps we could distinguish a general mechanical categorization of
"poetry" ( light verse, satire, epic, well rhymed lines ...whatever) and
"poetry generating a modality of great art"? Would it complicate
matters?
Alexey's words made me realize that sometimes we'll read great art
unartiscally and read poor verse with art.
I'm not arguing for "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder", but a
certain amount of projection of one's caleidoscopic subjective states is
always present in our aesthetic judgements.
We may read VN as an artist would read him and, sometimes, as the artist
he is.

Our discussions here often fail to examine VN's works either as "art" or
in an artistic way when we go after hidden meanings, citations and
allusions, or take part in its word games and rhymes. We don't have to
restrict the potentialities of wonder, discovery and fun that are
inherent in VN's style, but these are not always an expression or a
response to "art".

Carolyn: "The word "kinbote" like the word "versipel" is too unusual to
be a happenstance. Neither word appears in the OED, yet both are found
in Webster's 3rd edition. Their usage by VN is very calculated."
JM: I agree with you that its usage ( "kinbote") is calculated. And yet,
words are not as docile as we want them to be. They often they mean more
than we originally intended them to mean or open unexpected inroads for
understanding the past, as well as the future. VN could not foresee the
significance that would be attached to his choice of the name "Kinbote."

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