Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025214, Sun, 23 Mar 2014 10:37:22 -0700

Re: Greatest Fictional Character
Does the character have to be human? if not, I nominate Moby Dick. There's also the Old Testament's God, Milton's Satan. And in the semi-human realm perhaps the title character(s) of Isaak Dinesen's "The Monkey." And Oscar Wilde's irresistible Lady Bracknell. I guess she passes for human ... Don Juan is another wonderful creation, though not sure who actually created him. Monsters, in other word, make excellent characters. In Russian literature I think I'd pick Oblomov. Are any of VN's characters in the same league? I don't think so.*


*Humbert 's more of a "melky bes" (petty demon)

From: Jansy Mello <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2014 2:14 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Greatest Fictional Character

made me curious about theses assessments. I copied the two directly related to
V.Nabokov: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/04/who-is-the-greatest-fictional-character-of-all-time/358649/
Billy Collins, poet - Dilettante and monster, pursuer and pursued, seducer and seduced,
Nabokov’sHumbert Humbert evades simple moral verdicts almost as well as he did 50 years ago. Lolita still works to
implicate its readers in a reprehensible crime by addressing us as both witnesses
and jurors and by encasing Humbert’s sins in Nabokov’s exquisitely playful
Errol Morris, filmmaker and author
-  Charles Kinbote—his enthusiasm for poetry; Bartleby—his engagement with others; Cain—his love of his fellow humans, even
at a time when there were many fewer of them; Ahab—his passion for seafood; Meursault—his warm feelings toward his
mother; Gregor Samsa—his unshakable self-esteem.
And I
think VN would have appreciated the distinction between fictional creation and
fictional character by M.Cunningham who answered the question as seriously as
Billy Collins did without mocking the kind of “enquête” as the one promoted by The
Michael Cunningham, author: Emma Bovary may not be the greatest of fictional
characters, but she’s the greatest fictional creation.
She’s selfish, frivolous, and dim-witted. She’s unfaithful. She’s vain. But
Flaubert insisted so ardently on her right to our attention that he created a
tragic, immortal literary figure out of a twit. That’s greatness.

2014-03-22 10:14 GMT-03:00 Jay Livingston <livingstonj@mail.montclair.edu>:

The latest Atlantic asks authors, “Who Is the Greatest Fictional Character of All Time?”
>Errol Morris responds:  Charles Kinbote—his enthusiasm for poetry . . .
>Morris, with similarly irony, lists some others.
>Billy Collins, tongue not at all in cheek, votes for Humbert.
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