NABOKV-L post 0002212, Thu, 3 Jul 1997 09:52:55 -0700

VN, Dostovsky,
& Oliver Stone as per George Wills in July _Atlantic_
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 03 Jul 1997 10:12:21 -0700
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <>
Subject: Nabokov and Dostovsky in July Atlantic

From: Rodney Welch <>

Nabokov and his least favorite Russian author both rate mentions
in Garry Wills' excellent article on Oliver Stone in the July Atlantic
Wills -- who wrote so interestingly about LOLITA in his book
UNDER GOD -- calls Stone "Dostoyevsky with a camera," citing Stone's
reliance on trashy news reports, conventional melodrama, and assorted
religious weirdos.
"Dostoyevsky, too, has been accused of a bogus spirtuality -- as
when Vladimir Nabokov denounced his characters for `sinning their way to
But Wills comes to praise Stone rather than condemn, and he does
a fine job in limning the art of a rather unlikeable artist. (That's
my opinion, anyway -- I always rush to see Oliver Stone's films and I
flee in the opposite direction whenever the insufferably arrogant
director explains them on TV.) Wills points out that Stone, like
Dostoyevsky, genuinely chooses to grapple with serious spiritual issues.
"Some refuse to consider his religious thrashings important," Wills
writes, "because (like Dostoyevsky's) they take exotic form -- the
religion found in and beyond excess..."
For Stone, that religion is Buddhism; viewers will recall the
Eastern mysticism of both THE DOORS and NATURAL BORN KILLERS.
"Nabokov might say that Stone's characters are `sinning their way
to Buddha,' but that is often the story of religion when it is real,"
Wills writes. "When it is unreal it becomes a temptation and a trap..."
I wish I had John Updike's review of Lectures on Russian
Literature close at hand; I seem to recall it made the same point, that
Nabokov's disparagement of Dostoyevsky may have reflected VN's own
unfamiliarity with the religious experience.

Rodney Welch
Columbia, SC