NABOKV-L post 0005819, Mon, 12 Mar 2001 12:02:02 -0800

Saturday Nabokovia in Santa Barbara

AT lunch I skimmed the March 4, NYTBR and encountered two stray VN refs.
Jim Shepard▓s review of John Banville▓s ECLIPSE (p. 10) which devotes
one of its four columns to comparing Banville▓s work to VN▓s. The
comparison has been made before, as Sheppard notes, but not in such
detail. After touching on some other akin writers, it starts: ⌠The most
aubiquitous literary shade evoked, though, is Nabokov▓s. Banville must
be bone-weary by this point of having reviewers pick up the Nabokovian
scent once again, and yet ⌠Eclipse■ seems positively crosshatched by the
great man▓s spur.(The article may be on the NYTimes www site. Please let
me know.)

Daniel Mendelsohn▓s review of James Merrill▓s ⌠Collected Poems■ (pp.
16-17) mentions VN in connection with Merrill▓s ⌠The Changing Light at
Sandover■ which derives in part from conversations transcribed from an
Ouija board: ⌠In this strange and Haunted poem, in which the spirits of
every one from Maria Callas to W.H. Auden make appearances (Nabokov,
famously, was not allowed to get a word in edgewise .┘.■ Someone might
want to follow up on this (Phil?).

That afternoon I went to see ⌠The Luzhin Defense■, directed by Marlene
Gorris, with script by Peter Berry. It is a sumptuous production shot in
Italy and Budapest. In itself it was a decent film √ apart from an
idiotic ending in which Luzhin▓s (chess-less) lover (they do not marry
in the film although Luzhin is wildly successful as her all too potent
lover) salvages his post-humous anti-Turati defense notes and defeats
(???) Turati after Luzhin▓s suicide. A brilliant performance by John
Turturro, although no Luzhin look-alike. (Maybe they should have cast
Turturro▓s sister (who plays Tony Soprano▓s sister in the HBO series) as
Luzhin▓s paramour. What puzzled me most was why Berry diverged so much
from VN▓s book which is intensely cinematic in itself. Indeed, one of
VN▓s ⌠sources▓ for the book was the 1920s Soviet film "Chess Fever."

After the film, I dropped by a used bookstore and stumbled upon a fairly
good copy (of an initial 1500) of The Real Life of Sebastian Knight_
(New Directions, 1941) for $25.

All going to show that if you are a heavy-duty Nabokophile, you don▓t
need a real life.