Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025941, Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:50:07 -0500

VN sighting at OpenCulture.com, January 14th, 2015 2 Comments:
From the wonderful OpenCulture.com site:


Vladimir Nabokov Names the Greatest (and Most Overrated) Novels of the 20th

in *Literature <http://www.openculture.com/category/literature>* | January
14th, 2015 2 Comments

[Youtube link]

Just above, hear émigré Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov
<https://www.randomhouse.com/features/nabokov/biography.html>, author of
*Lolita* <http://amzn.to/1za8mJ2> read the opening sentences of that novel
in both English and Russian, after offering some brief comments on his
relationship to his former native country. Then, after a few minutes of
discussion of a work that became incorporated into his *Ada or Ardor: A
Family Chronicle* <http://amzn.to/1swX2o6>, we get Nabokov the cantankerous
critic. Or rather, Nabokov, the critic of critics. The author had little
regard for critics themselves. In a *Paris Review*
he opines that the only purpose of literary criticism was that it “gives
readers, including the author of the book, some information about the
critic’s intelligence, or honesty, or both.” In the filmed interview above
(at the 3:24 mark), Nabokov points his lance at the inflated popular notion
of “great books”:

*I’ve been perplexed and amused by fabricated notions about so-called
“great books.” That, for instance, Mann’s asinine Death in Venice, or
Pasternak’s melodramatic, vilely written Doctor Zhivago, or Faulkner’s
corncobby chronicles can be considered masterpieces, or at least what
journalists term “great books,” is to me the same sort of absurd delusion
as when a hypnotized person makes love to a chair.*

That *Lolita* regularly tops such “great books” lists, such as the Modern
Library’s “100 Best Novels,”
<http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/> would hardly have
impressed its author. Nonetheless, after his takedown of such venerated
names as Thomas Mann, Boris Pasternak, and the “corncobby” William
Faulkner, Nabokov doesn’t hesitate to name his “greatest masterpieces of
20th century prose.” They are, in this order:

*1) James Joyce’s Ulysses <http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4300>*

*2) Kafka’s The Metamorphosis <http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5200>*

*3) Andrei Bely’s St. Petersburg

*4) The first half of Proust’s fairy tale, In Search of Lost Time*

So there you have it, from the mouth of the master himself. Should you hang
in there for the next clip, you will hear Nabokov read from his notebook
titled “Things I Detest.” How seriously we are to take any of this is hard
to say—one never really knows with Nabokov.

*Related Content:*

Vladimir Nabokov (Channelled by Christopher Plummer) Teaches Kafka at

Vladimir Nabokov Marvels Over Different “Lolita” Book Covers

The Notecards on Which Vladimir Nabokov Wrote Lolita: A Look Inside the
Author’s Creative Process

Vladimir Nabokov Creates a Hand-Drawn Map of James Joyce’s Ulysses

Vladimir Nabokov’s Delightful Butterfly Drawings

*Josh Jones* <http://about.me/jonesjoshua>* is a writer and musician based
in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness <https://twitter.com/jdmagness>*


Barrie Karp

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com
AdaOnline: "http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada: http://vnjapan.org/main/ada/index.html
The VN Bibliography Blog: http://vnbiblio.com/
Search the archive with L-Soft: https://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?A0=NABOKV-L

Manage subscription options :http://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=NABOKV-L