Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025445, Tue, 10 Jun 2014 17:36:08 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] [ IDLE THOUGHTS] Comic and Cosmic

JM: “Vladimir Nabokov’s depiction of Terra and Anti Terra, or his reference to an anti-terran paradise, remain as puzzling to me as Dante’s Divina Commedia [ ] I’m lost because one should not blend geography and metaphors to follow cosmic fictions in search of a simple sort of order…”

JM: Now I’m unsure that one shouldn’t blend geography and metaphors in our search for order (I mean, patterns and mental images). While looking through a new translation of V.Nabokov’s “Good Readers and Good Writers,”[ “Lectures on Literature”] I isolated a few lines from his instructions to his students to bring them up here, in connection to how to proceed in relation to “Ada’s” Terra and Anti-Terra or walk through New Wye and Zembla.

VN: “ Time and space, the colors of the seasons, the movements of muscles and minds, all these are for writers of genius [ ] not traditional notions which may be borrowed from the circulating library of public truths but a series of unique surprises which master artists have learned to express in their own unique way [ ] The material of this world may be real enough (as far as reality goes) but does not exist at all as an accepted entirety: it is chaos, and to this chaos the author says "go!" allowing the world to flicker and to fuse. It is now recombined in its very atoms [ ] The writer is the first man to mop it and to form the natural objects it contains. Those berries there are edible. That speckled creature that bolted across my path might be tamed…” [ ] “the reader must know when and where to curb his imagination and this he does by trying to get clear the specific world the author places at his disposal. We must see things and hear things, we must visualize the rooms, the clothes, the manners of an author’s people.

I realized now that I’m some kind of “Old Believer”, or as mad as Aqua, for I cannot avoid considering that “Terra” is a real albeit boring place in “Ada’s” fictional worlds. “Reality is a subjective affair,” indeed and, our conscious grasp of its elements is always in expansion thanks to the “writers of genius,” even when they are delirious or faltering like Van.

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