Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005800, Fri, 9 Mar 2001 14:27:19 -0800

Re: Rosebud (fwd)
From: Kiran Krishna <kiran@Physics.usyd.edu.au>

I usually accept Nabokov's insistent denials of influence (Ignoring them
has led to some rather dreadful errors in the past: Someone's - Her name
escapes me - essay on Kafka comes to mind; Influence, as Appel
acknowledges, is a troublesome question), and I agree that there is no
reason to doubt his denial. However, I hadn't read the book since I
couldn't find it at our library, and I presumed that it was no different
from the essay. Still, as with Stravinsky, there are some interesting

On Fri, 9 Mar 2001, Galya Diment wrote:

> From: Brian Walter <bdwalter@artsci.wustl.edu>
> Appel's essay "Nabokov's Dark Cinema" may not mention Welles, but his book
> *Nabokov's Dark Cinema* (OUP, 1974) certainly does. Appel does in fact
> verify that Nabokov loved *Citizen Kane*; apparently, Nabokov described it
> as "Extraordinary! A masterpiece" (p. 57). Appel even asks Nabokov about
> the famous "'Rosebud' ending," which Welles labeled "dollar-book Freud"; by
> way of reply, Nabokov apparently "shrugged his shoulders, and the
> conversation turned to soccer" (57-8).
> Unfortunately for this line of inquiry, the same passage has Nabokov
> rejecting any possibility of influence or allusion, as he informed Appel
> that he had seen *Citizen Kane* only in 1972, on Swiss television (57).
> It's probably a good idea to take any of Nabokov's insistent denials of
> influence or allusion with a grain of salt (apart from Freud, few things
> seem to have sparked Nabokov's competitive zeal more readily than a
> suggestion that he was not self-engendered as a writer, one who effectively
> skipped the gestation of apprenticeship and imitation that so many other
> artists acknowledge; see, for instance, just about any interview in *Strong
> Opinions*). But in this case, there seems no reason not to take Nabokov at
> his word.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>
> Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 10:40 AM
> Subject: Rosebud (fwd)
> From: Kiran Krishna <kiran@Physics.usyd.edu.au>
> It just occured to me that in the following sentence (Part 1, Chapter 7,
> Page 23 in the annotated edition):
> "Next day, an asthmatic woman, coarsely painted, garrulous, garlicky, with
> an almost farcical Provencal accent and a black mustache above a purple
> lip, took me to what was her own domicile, and there, after explosively
> kissing the bunched tips of her fat fingers to signify the delectable
> rosebud quality of her merchandise, she theatrically drew aside a curtain
> to reveal what I judged was that part of the room where a large and
> unfastidious family usually slept."
> Rosebud could be interpreted as a reference to Orson Welles' Citizen
> Kane. Of course, allusions cannot really be discerned from single words,
> but Welles, like a number of other great artists, has a fascination with
> vulgarity (though in Citizen Kane, the vulgarity is closer to kitsch
> than poshlost'). Ada (especially Dan Veen, the dream chapter - Part 2,
> Chapter 3, and the dozen elderly townsmen of Part 1, Chapter 39, which
> reminds me of the dozen vacationers in the west wing of Xanadu) suggests
> Citizen Kane much more strongly. However, I find that Appel's essay (which
> among other things is remarkable for its appreciation of Stravinsky's
> Oedipus Rex), 'Nabokov's Dark Cinema' (collected, if you cannot find it by
> itself, in 'The Bitter Air of Exile') makes no mention at all of Welles,
> and neither, I notice, does Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years. Still, I
> think it would be a fascinating area of research, and would be delighted
> to hear other views on this subject.


"I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name."
- Vladimir Nabokov