Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026799, Tue, 12 Jan 2016 15:02:30 -0500

Re: Fwd: Re: David Bowie and Nabokov
Fascinating interview with David Bowie on art (I suspect there may be lots
more like this), could be interesting to discuss in relation to VN's views.



Barrie Karp PhD

On Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 2:31 PM, Nabokv-L <nabokv-l@utk.edu> wrote:

> EDNote: I'm reposting this message because, coming from a Yahoo account,
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> -------- Original Message -------- Subject: Re: David Bowie and Nabokov Date:
> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 04:05:45 +0000 From: Joseph Schlegel
> <josephschlegel@yahoo.com> <josephschlegel@yahoo.com> Reply-To: Joseph
> Schlegel <josephschlegel@yahoo.com> <josephschlegel@yahoo.com> To: Vladimir
> Nabokov Forum <nabokv-l@listserv.ucsb.edu> <nabokv-l@listserv.ucsb.edu>
> A silly mistake in my previous post [see below, the two posts have been
> combined--SB]: of course Nabokov wouldn't have known of the specific homage
> in Bowie's song, which was released after Nabokov's death. I meant to
> phrase that as whether Nabokov was aware of Bowie at all -- I was hoping to
> spark some discussion on that point.
> Joseph Schlegel
> PhD Candidate
> Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
> University of Toronto
> On Monday, January 11, 2016 8:56 PM, Joseph Schlegel
> <josephschlegel@yahoo.com> <josephschlegel@yahoo.com> wrote:
> With David Bowie's passing
> <http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-35278872>, I want to reflect
> on his reflections of Nabokov for a moment. Bowie's song "I'd Rather Be
> High" <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JuagF-Eq2A> immortalized the
> 'Naa-bah-kahv' pronunciation in its opening lines:
> Nabokov is sun-licked now
> Upon the beach at Grunewald
> Brilliant and naked just
> The way that authors look
> In a scene towards the end of Nabokov's novel *The Gift*, the main
> character, Fyodor, goes bathing in the nude in a Grunewald forest: “The sun
> bore down. The sun licked me all over with its big smooth tongue.” Bowie's
> application of Nabokov's imagery demonstrates an interest in Nabokov that
> extends beyond a mere reading of *Lolita*. In fact, the line that
> emphasizes "the way that authors look" reveals a possible attentive reading
> of the *The Gift*, since Nabokov's text implies the nude bather Fyodor's
> self-authorship.
> However, it is more likely, as Chris O'Leary points out
> <https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/id-rather-be-high/>, that he
> never read *The Gift*, but rather knew the description from Otto
> Friedrich's *Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s*. This
> book, which quotes Nabokov's scene, is included in Bowie's list of
> "must-read books"
> <https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/10/03/david-bowie-reading-list/>,
> which also includes Nabokov's *Lolita* and other books that show an
> interest in Russian culture more generally (Orlando Figes's *A People's
> Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1890-1924*, Peter Sadecky's *Octobriana
> and the Russian Underground*, Mikhail Bulgakov's *The Master and
> Margarita*, and Anthony Burgess's *A Clockwork Orange*)
> I'm uncertain whether Nabokov was aware of Bowie's homage or not.
> Joseph Schlegel
> PhD Candidate
> University of Toronto
> Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
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