Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026966, Thu, 28 Apr 2016 12:22:10 -0300

[SIGHTING] Moshfegh's first novel "occasionally" reminiscive of
Nabokov - and a review
Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen reminds me of Nabokov
<http://www.spectator.co.uk/author/lewis-jones/> Lewis Jones

Despite its drab prison setting and lonely, dysmorphic heroine, this
creepily funny first novel shows immense promise, says Lewis Jones [ ]

Moshfegh’s control of tone and pace is masterly, her ventriloquism
impeccable, and the period detail unobtrusively spot-on. I was occasionally
reminded of Nabokov and Lena Dunham, among others, but her voice is her own,
and immensely promising.


The Spectator march 2016


Vladimir Nabokov, Scientific Genius

by Laura Marsh. April 5,2016

In the spring of 1970, a 71-year-old Vladimir Nabokov gave chase to a rare,
orange butterfly on the slopes of Mount Etna, sweating and panting, his lips
“white rimmed with thirst and excitement.” Tucking the specimen into the
inside pocket of his jacket, he told a New York Times reporter, “It is a
feeling I usually get at my writing desk.” [ ]

194552/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1459789243&sr=8-2&keywords=Fine+Lines> Fine
Lines, a new book about Nabokov’s scientific work, entomologist Robert Dirig
makes a pilgrimage to one of the novelist’s collecting spots in the Smoky
Mountains, where he sees for himself the “glorious blooms of flowering
dogwood” and hears rustling in the branches. In another essay in the volume,
four biologists compare current scientific methods with Nabokov’s,
expressing excitement to “have walked in Vladimir Nabokov’s footsteps, both
literal and conceptual.” [ ]

If you place his novels and memoirs side by side with his lepidopterological
studies, one thing is clear: Nabokov was interested in telling very
different stories about butterflies in each. As a lepidopterist, he was
interested in stories that spanned vast, geological time periods, informed
by fine-grained empirical observations. But in his novels and stories,
butterflies flit in and out of the narrative, either to adorn a moment of
impossible desire or as flickering omens of doom—as in the case of the red
admiral that lands on John Shade’s arm before he is assassinated in Pale
Fire. They are creatures of the ever-disappearing present, hardly existing
for any concrete purpose at all; their wings bear the heavy load of
subjectivity. In their elusiveness, their intricacy, they embodied the
Nabokovian aesthetic; they were, as he wrote in Speak, Memory, an emblem of
the “non-utilitarian delights” he sought in art.[ ]

Nabokov himself, meanwhile, seemed to take pride in discouraging indulgent
readings of his butterfly work. When he died in 1977, he was working on a
new book with a scientific focus, an illustrated history of Butterflies in
Art, ranging from ancient Egypt to the Renaissance. It was to include works
by Hieronymus Bosch, Jan Brueghel, Albrecht Dürer, and many others, though
he complained their depictions were imprecise and ignorant. He traveled
across small towns in Italy, France, and the Netherlands, asking curators to
call up more accurate but little-known still lifes from their stacks. “That
in some cases the butterfly symbolizes something,” he insisted, “lies
utterly outside my area of interest.”

Laura Marsh is a story editor at the New Republic.


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