NABOKV-L post 0007064, Sat, 9 Nov 2002 16:42:02 -0800

Subject
Fw: nabokov as "transit lounger"
Date
Body
EDNOTE: see end
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nicholas Laughlin" <nicholaslaughlin@yahoo.com>
To: <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
> ----------------- Message requiring your approval (47
lines) ------------------
> Ive just been reading an essay by Pico Ayer called
> "Transit Loungers", published in the March-April 2002
> issue of _Biblio_ (pp. 39-40), a journal published in
> New Delhi. (There is a website, www.biblio-india.com,
> but the March-April issue doesn't seem to be posted.)
> Ayer is writing about "an entirely new breed of
> people, a transcontinental tribe of wanderers," to
> whom "nothing is strange ... and nowhere is foreign,"
> & to which he says he belongs. About halfway through
> the essay he discusses V.S. Naipaul as a
> representative of this new tribe, but then suggests
> more approvingly a different model:
>
> "There is, however, another way of apprehending
> foreignness, and that is the way of Nabokov. In him we
> see an avid cultivation of the novel; he collects
> foreign worlds with a connoisseur's delight, he sees
> foreign words as toys to play with, and exile as the
> state of kings. The touring aristocrat can relish the
> pleasures of Low culture precisely because they are
> the things that his own High culture lacks; the motel
> and the summer camp, the roadside attraction and the
> hot fudge sundae. I recognise in Nabokov a European's
> love for America, rooted in America's very
> youthfulness and heedlessness and ahistoricity; I
> recognise in him the sense that the newcomer's
> viewpoint may be the one most conducive to bright
> ardour (a 16-year-old may be infinitely more
> interesting to a 40-year-old than to a fellow
> teenager). The hideous suburb that looks so vulgar
> from afar becomes a little warmer when one's in the
> thick of it. Unfamiliarity, in any form, breeds
> contempt. Nabokov knows that if nowhere is home,
> everywhere is. That instead of taking alienation as
> our natural state, we can feel partially adjusted
> everywhere. That the outsider at the feast does not
> have to sit in the corner alone, taking notes; he can
> plunge into the pleasures of his new home with
> abandon."
>
> Nicholas Laughlin
> Diego Martin, Trinidad
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EDNOTE: Two passing thoughts. 1) I am not at all sure this is a sound
assessment of Nabokov but it strikes me as one reasons many Russians do not
like him. 2) In the Sixties, British novelist Bridget Brophy wrote a very
amusing avant-garde novel called IN TRANSIT. It has, I notice, been
reissued.