NABOKV-L post 0014413, Sat, 16 Dec 2006 16:42:45 +0000

Re: American writing; translation parrots; BS
On 12/12/06 15:33, "Chaswe@AOL.COM" <Chaswe@AOL.COM> wrote:

> VN: I am an American writer, born in Russian and educated in England....
> This is an interesting quote. VN¹s response seems precise, truthful and
> diplomatic; but if that¹s all he said, then it evades Toffler¹s question, and
> fails to answer it. Perhaps there is some other quote where VN specifically
> replies to the question about his strong sense of national identity. I assume
> VN carried an American passport in 1973 (if that¹s when the interview took
> place). Presumably Albert Einstein and Wernher von Braun also carried American
> passports, but I find it extremely difficult to think of either of them as
> Americans, or as in any way products of American cultural values and
> educational systems.
> Charles: your reaction underlines my recent comments on VN¹s ³nationality.²
Until we decide which meaning[s] of ³American² are relevant, any
disagreements we may have on ³pigeon-holing² VN (which, as SES reminds us,
is a most UN-Nabokovian travesty) remain pointless. IF you insist that
³American² means or subsumes ³product of American cultural values and
educational systems² we are locked in a typical semantic loop! I suppose we
could all grind out a long, generally acceptable working definintion of
³American cultural values² BUT (one of VN¹s grands mais¹s!) they constitute
a rare old mess of molten pottage. Will the REAL American Culture please
STAND UP? Considering all the X-American variants from African-, Hispanic-,
RedNeck-, UpDike-, DownMarket-, we are left with the equivalent of calling
both Shakespeare and Flaubert EUROPEAN writers. True, but not a riotous

Your mention of Einstein reminds us that both he and VN gained freedom from
a murderous dictatorship. Unsurprisingly, they both expressed STRONG
life-long gratitude to the USA (warts and all ‹ speaking of which, Einstein
& Morgenstern [already US citizens] accompanied Goedel when the latter faced
his own ³interview/exams² for US citizenship. During the cab ride, Goedel,
the world¹s greatest logician, suddenly announced he had detected a logical
inconsistency in the US Constitution! His friends, with difficulty,
successfully urged him not to mention the matter).

A final irony on Einstein¹s exile & the notion of ³false nationalisms²: one
reason we won World War II was Hitler¹s antipathy to what he called ³Jewish²

Stan Kelly-Bootle

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