NABOKV-L post 0000821, Tue, 14 Nov 1995 10:46:07 -0800

Nabokov ref in Atlantic Monthly (fwd)
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 1995 08:46:14 -0800 (PST)
From: Nassim Berdjis <>

The October 1995 issue of The Atlantic Monthly includes Martin Amis's
essay "A Chicago of a Novel: In "The Adventures of Augie March", Saul
Bellow retired the cup" (pp. 114-27). Amis characterizes Augie March as
"unembarrassably amorous. When it comes to love, Augie just refuses
to get real.
This marks him out, locally, as an effeminate anachronism--as does his
goodness. 'You don't keep up with the times. You're going against
history,' Manny Padilla says. 'The big investigation today is into how
bad (italicized) a guy can be, not how good he can be.' Generally in
literature goodness has always been bad news. As Montherlant said,
happiness--the positive value--'writes white.' Only Tolstoy, perhaps,
made happiness swing on the page. And goodness writes purple. We'll never
know how Russian novelists would have done modern goodness. In his
Russian novels, as opposed to his American novels, Nabokov's goodies
exude an aristocratic triumphalism (it's his one dud note), striding,
blaring, munching, guffawing. But Bellow is a Russian too, as well as
an American; and he makes goodness swing. Of course, Augie is (italicized)
an anachronism. Empathetic on a broad scale, he remains unalienated. His
sufferings are reactive rather than existential. He is not a discontent:
civilization, if we could get any, would suit him fine. He believes
in the soul, and in human perfectibility. For the hero of a
mid-twentieth-century novel, Augie is anomalously allegro; he is
daringly, scandalously spry." (p. 120)