Bowels and Buffoons

Submitted by Philip Dynia on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 15:03

 I am driving myself mad trying to locate the source of a quotation I remember attributed to Nabokov in a New York Review of Books piece I read in the 1970s. I remember the quote as “the bowels…those buffoons in the morality play of our existence.” Is that correct, and if so, where/when did Nabokov say/write it? Any help or thoughts would be much appreciated.

Remembering Nabokov's quotes is one of my favourite pastimes, but this one had me stumped. I can't remember anything from Ada or Transparent Things or his interviews (if it is from the 70s) that can come close. After looking closely, a comparable passage came up from Look at the Harlequins! (Pt 7 Ch 2)

"I owe thwarted obituarists, as well as all lovers of medical lore, some clinical elucidations. My lungs and my heart acted, or were induced to act, normally; so did my bowels, those buffoons in the cast of our private miracle plays."

Did Martin Amis quote it or something? lol

I think you have it! I may well have mis-remembered the quote, or it could be that the author of the NYR article did.  Thank you and kudos to you (and your remarkable memory). And many thanks.

I was happy to be of help here, but was rather wary that you wouldn't check in later because of the time-lapse.