Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026844, Mon, 1 Feb 2016 03:14:55 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] Photo with VN and Dictionary
PS to "If god doesn't exist then everything is permitted"- part four, book
eleven, chapter four. Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov.
"It seems to me that Smurov's brand of vigilant solipsism and his
delusional idealism, that leads him to imagine that he can act with
impunity, is a distorted play with Dostoevsky's sentence. Variants of such
fantasies seem to open space to a lot of literary works of modern fiction as
if everything were permitted to these writers..."

Jansy Mello: I was unable to use formatting devices in my last message.
Sorry. Also, in a previous posting, I used the word "foreshadow" incorrectly
(unless I should sustain that VN's various writings constitute one single
gigantic novel, right?). However, in the case of "The Eye," lots of
important ideas that VN developed or reworked in some of his other works
were introduced there - as if they were always present in his exploring
I also forgot to explain that I initially considered the "freedom" Smurov
acquired after his "death" as bearing a relation to Dostoevsky's lines
because I compared his suicide (probably incorrectly, but it gave me the
push) to "God's death."

When I mentioned the passage of Smurov's fantasies into acts - and his
justifications about them in writing as a continuation of these acts - in
connection to a few modern authors' views about the social effects or
consequences of their texts, I was only considering something along the line
of VN's satire of Dostoevsky in Despair, and its indication of Oscar Wilde's
arguments ( in "Pen, Pencil and Poison," as argued by Alexander Dolinin in
The Caning of Modernist Profaners: Parody in Despair, in "Zembla": "Despair
can be read as a double-edged lampoon aimed simultaneously at both waves of
'dostoevshchina.' First, Hermann's initial idea of committing a perfect
murder that would be aesthetically comparable with the greatest artistic
creations parodies the Symbolist philosophy of
'zhiznetvorchestvo'(life-creation) and decadent writings based on the
concept of the artist as a Nietzschean superman standing 'beyond good and
evil' and projecting his 'creative dreams' onto malleable reality." [ See
note 24 <https://www99.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/doli3.htm> for the full

In my opinion neither VN's reiteration of an absence of social content or of
didactic messages in his novels (and forewords, too?), nor the construction
of a protective bubble-world of great literary fiction, cannot deny their
actual social relevance and impact once the writings are set on paper. The
rendering of a special "immunity" for sexual fantasies as such, as those are
found in "The Enchanter" and in "Lolita" (I have in mind the couch/apple
scene in the latter, or "Arthur's" fumbling with his future step-daughter by
a window, in the first) with their dangerous "passage to the act" (in
psychoanalytic terminology) isn't something that VN ignored: in "The
Enchanter" an old lady, who was travelling in the same train-compartment
with "Arthur" and his little girl, sensed there was something so foul in the
atmosphere that it forced her to abandon her seat; in Quilty's first
dialogue with Humbert something of a similar nature can be clearly perceived
(although, objectively, I don't think that the old lady nor Quilty, at that
point, had any reason to suspect that anything of the kind was about to take
place. The Author knew, of course and, unlike Humbert's successes, in "The
Enchanter" the crazed perpretator was punished almost at once).

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