NABOKV-L post 0007547, Fri, 7 Feb 2003 07:11:48 -0800

Theory and VN (fwd)
From: Robert Aguirre <>

Critical, literary, and philosophical theory find their way into various
discourses both high and popular. Some people, mostly in my experience
those people who don¹t really understand theory or haven¹t taken the time to
read a lot of it, simply ³hate² it and call for its demise. That¹s fine.
As it is that those people well versed and capable of teaching theory don¹t
care for it for one reason or another. That is fine also.

However, like anything else in life that we use to enhance our understanding
of the world and its artifacts, theory is just another tool for those who
are interested in issues other than individual reader response to understand
and gain a great appreciation of literature and life.

I really find it interesting that so many people who enjoy Nabokov have so
much disdain for theory. It does have ³jargon² I guess; it does have
strange word constructions, I guess; it does have inside jokes, I guess. It
can be confusing and tricky, I guess. But aren¹t these the very same
aspects of VN that most of you relish in?

For the record, I find that my students enjoy books more when they learn
about them in conjunction with the books¹ historical and philosophical
contexts. I try to teach them that writers don¹t write in a bubble but are
part of the world and write about that world. Einstein¹s theories help them
understand Faulkner¹s narrative structure, etc. Late-modernist avant-garde
theory helps them understand Lolita-below the surface text, etc. And yes
Lyotard, Derrida, Bauman, et al, help my students understand the structures
of Pynchon¹s protean postmodern novels.

Robert Aguirre

> From: Galya Diment <>
> Reply-To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
> Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 18:04:06 -0800
> Subject: Re: VN and debunking the postmodern myth (fwd)
> From: Andrew Brown <>
> Following this discussion, it occurs to me to ask, does the question of the
> non-academic lay reader ever enter the considerations of the scholar and the
> academic?
> I'm curious. I made the decision many years ago, as an undergrad, not to
> pursue an academic career, even though I loved literature more than
> anything. I've enjoyed life as a non academic writer, in many disciplines
> and mediums, and have never lost my love of literature, but have always
> followed theory from a distance, and never considered it an influence on my
> thought or my reading.
> When academics study theory and create theory, do they feel that their work
> has any application, or receive any attention, in the vastly larger non
> academic reading world?
> I ask this honestly and not sarcastically. I offer my participation here
> (primarily as a reader) on the Nabokov List and the Finnegans Wake List as
> bona fides of some sort to my role as an active, engaged, enthusiastic
> appreciator of literature.
> Please let me know what you think.
> Andrew Brown
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Galya Diment" <>
> Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 11:25 AM
> Subject: Re: VN and debunking the postmodern myth (fwd)
>> > From: Jason Stuart <>
>> >
>> >
>>> > >Can it possibly be time to debunk the foolish myth of the
>> > "postmodern" novel? And how, precisely, do we go about its destruction?
>> >
>> > These things usually take care of themselves, though I don't think
> anything really needs to be destroyed. The people I've talked to and worked
> with recently (I'm an undergrad senior too--just got Boyd's book as a
> Christmas present! Whatta coinkeedink) are a little tired of jargony,
> obscure writing. And the French. But that's just a perspective; it doesn't
> entail the death of theory. Characterizing postmodernism as a "lie" is
> likely to get you into the same ideological slum where Will and Greenblatt
> had their little turf war a decade ago, so be careful--that's my advice.
>> >
>> > Still, I don't think appraising VN with an eye to the postmodern is
> necessarily without value; reading anything with your theory glasses on
> probably would've provoked--well, any author. Sure, maybe not Sontag or
> Dworkin, but you get my drift.
>> >
>> >
>>> > >These are just a few ideas that came to me. I'd be
>> > interested in hearing other opiniosn on this idea,
>> > from some of you established academics. I am, after
>> > all, little more than a plucky undergraduate senior
>> > with too much time and a passion for Nabokov.
>> >
>> > Hope you don't mind the unestablished view. For my part--and I say this
> as someone on the brink of an academic career, so bear in mind it might
> change if I get desperate--I refuse to use phrases like "[verb]ing the
> body," "...after Auschwitz," and anything that involves excessive, arbitrary
> use of sl/ashes and (paren(t)heses) to (de)note sub/text. But it's one
> man's lonely battle. Or something. Have a look at Crews' "Postmodern Pooh"
> for a laugh.
>> >
>> > Enjoy,
>> >
>> > JS
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > ---------------------------------
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