Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024545, Tue, 3 Sep 2013 13:30:07 -0300

More on VN's lecture on Doestoevky: Art as a Divine Game?
Jansy Mello: While going over a translation of Nabokov's Russian lectures I selected certain paragraphs to bring to our forum and, for once, I failed to check anything else related to VN and Dostoevsky in the internet.
However, just now I needed a particular Nabokov find (which I associated to psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion's observation that the "conscience is the sense organ for the apprehension of psychic qualities" - and here I quote him from memory only), namely, "the brain, that stomach of the soul." and had a go at the google. I found an interesting commentary in a blog on "Literature and poetry, philosophy and politics, melancholy and disquiet" (Dec.,1,2007) - "Nabokov On Dostoevsky: Biased?"
The author ("Kubla Khan") considers VN's Dostoevsky lecture a "strange reading" ( the article can be found at:http://disquietthoughts.blogspot.com.br/2007/12/nabokov-on-dostoevsky-biased.html

I fully concur with his observation that VN's three assertions about art, in that lecture, are "slightly absurd[ ] how can art remain art if it is make believe? Do we only visit literature for diversion? Is poetry only an escape from reality? I think that literature, real literature is just the opposite, it is the affirmation of our hidden lives, the bringing to lips of songs that we dare not sing usually, or melodies that we yearn to hear, for these are to us truer than life for they are life, for this literature is not an escape from reality into make believe but an escape from make believe, into the reality of so many worlds, through words, through which, to a certain extent, we are able sometimes to make sense of a melancholic, cruel and sordid world."
Nevertheless, it's also my opinion that, inspite of what Nabokov has asserted in this lecture, his vision of Art was not simply one of "divine games" under the aegis of "Ars gratia artis." He may have created a fictional poet in John Shade, but was "Pale Fire" just the result of a "problem the author has set for himself"? Is John Shade he less "real" because of the poem's autobiographical "make believe" (the real poet is Nabokov)?

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