NABOKV-L post 0004642, Thu, 23 Dec 1999 14:23:33 -0800

Re: Nabokov and Balthus (fwd)

From: Galya Diment <>

Surprised me too -- but, without passing any judgment on how accurate the
rendition of the event was, VN apparently did like Balthus. See Boyd,
American Years, 511: "No lover of music, Nabokov always had a very keen
interest in painting, but cared little for abstract art. Among
contemporaries he valued painters like American landscape artist Peter
Hurd, who could record the real with a sense of poetry, or Balthus, who at
this late stage in history of art could still find new poses and moods and
implication for the human body and the play of light."

Given the latest surge of interest in and reevaluation of Norman Rockwell,
I began to wonder what Nabokov felt about him as a painter, whether he
viewed him as an artist of American "poshlust" or someone more interesting
than that. I don't think we know, though, do we?

On a somewhat unrelated note, in the most recent New Yorker, Nabokov is
mentioned twice, both times just a name drop; one is in the essay
about William Maxwell, one of the editors who dealt with Nabokov's
contributions to the New Yorker, and the other one is in an
autobiographical piece by Victor Erofeev, the author of his own "Russian
Beauty" and one of Nabokov's earliest popularizers in the pre- and post-
glasnost era.

Maxwell never says anything directly about VN, but several of his reported
comments could have VN in mind. He urged Alec Wilkinson, the author of the
essay, to write in "plain English": "Write as if you wish to be understood
by an unusually bright ten-year-old" and reportedly has expressed disdain
for what he calls "pirouettes on the page." "When Maxwell was young,"
Wilkinson writes, ""he was strongly attracted to Virginia Woolf's elaborate
and lyrical prose, but as he got older he began to prefer writing that was
formed on the writer's habitual way of speaking and was simple and to the
point." He also characterized the main fare in the New Yorker
in the late 1930s -- early 1950s as "Something trivial but amusing."

Galya Diment

On Thu, 23 Dec 1999, Donald Barton Johnson wrote:

> "He pointed to the Balthus frontal nude of a teenage
> girl and said with unabashed delight that he would pick that one."
> More Nabokovian mischief, one presumes. Balthus belongs right up there in
> that pantheon that includes Tamara de Lempicka.
> Wayne Daniels
> -------------------
> EDITOR's NOTE. But who is Tamara de Lempicka?