Vladimir Nabokov

Patricia Lockwood on VN

By matthew_roth, 30 November, 2020

Patricia Lockwood has a long essay-review about VN in the 5 November London Review of Books. It won't be to everyone's taste, but I enjoyed it, and I think she has some insightful, interesting things to say. For instance, this nugget:

Nabokov sets up problems to which it seems there should be answers, but he does not give answers, he gives rewards. That is why he is beloved, why people dedicate whole academic lives to him.

And this, on Lolita:

The book is the bonbon produced so we don't tell, and if further inducements are necessary, the movie will be playing later. Lolita is powered not just by nostalgia that is but by the nostalgia that will be: Nabokov knows that there will be people in the future what are not just hungry for sandwiches, but want to eat tuna salad on white, at a drugstore counter, in the year 1947.

There is also an accompanying podcast interview that is worth a listen.

Matt Roth