Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024946, Tue, 31 Dec 2013 11:19:44 -0500

Re: certicle storms in Ada
Actually, Carolyn, N execrated Colette -- said she was "Not worth speaking about" (letter to Wilson, Jan. 24 '52).
On Dec 28, 2013, at 10:36 PM, Carolyn Kunin wrote:

> Many thanks, Jansy - you have restored my respect for VN - at least a little more than somewhat. But I still cannot for the life of me think of what he found objectionable in Zhivago. As you may know, I am more enamored of VN's poetry than most of his prose. It is really not reasonable to expect prose to carry the weight of poetry. Those who, among my acquaintance, succeeded to any degree at all are Pushkin, Pasternak, VN, Mandel'shtam and Colette. Isak Dinesen, who I do not think wrote poetry, wrote highly poetic stories. This reminds me that I did find kind words re Colette somewhere in VN - can't recall where.
> I am particularly glad to see that VN did sympathize with Pasternak's "predicament in a police state." He should have been insufferable otherwise.
> Carolyn
> From: Jansy Mello <jansy.nabokv-L@AETERN.US>
> Sent: Saturday, December 28, 2013 6:46 AM
> Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] certicle storms in Ada
> Carolyn Kunin:"... I don't know that Nabokov differentiated between Pasternak as a prose or poetry writer. I would be surprized, since I don't think his disparagements had anything to do with Pasternak's artistic abilities - unless he was envious, which I doubt he would have admitted to himself. If Mary Efremov is correct (and I have no idea where she got her ideas from) then it was a politically based hatred. Well, wait and see what the List can come up with."
> Jansy Mello: In the century of free search-machines it is sometimes easier to count with what's online than with patient Nablers who want to comply with your bibliographical instigations. I remembered that VN spoke positively about Pasternak's poetry in Strong Opinions but, instead of opening my copy, I googled it and got a few surprises. For example, a loose quote: "I go by books, not by authors"...
> If I'm not mistaken, there must be still another interview mentioning Pasternak in SO but this is the one I found ready to quote: http://lib.ru/NABOKOW/Inter22.txt(1972)
> Yet you have a high opinion of Pasternak as a lyrical poet?
> Yes, I applauded his getting the Nobel Prize on the strength of his verse. In Dr. Zhivago, however, the prose does not live up to his poetry. Here and there, in a landscape or simile, one can distinguish, perhaps, faint echoes of his poetical voice, but those occasional fioriture are insufficient to save his novel from the provincial banality so typical of Soviet literature for the past fifty years. Precisely that link with Soviet tradition endeared the book to our progressive readers. I deeply sympathized with Pasternak's predicament in a police state; yet neither the vulgarities of the Zhivago style nor a philosophy that sought refuge in a sickly sweet brand of Christianism could ever transform that sympathy into a fellow writer's enthusiasm.
> ................................................................................................................................................................
> To provide a few other short cuts for those who are interested in this theme, here are a few other references:
> http://www.mjiles.com/obookispage/?page_id=157
> Writers Nabokov (Dis)Likes
> A badly-referenced collation of Nabokov’s literary likes and dislikes:
> Listed by author: – “I go by books, not by authors” – VN
> Likes
> Samuel Beckett – (but not his plays) “Beckett is the author of lovely novellas and wretched plays in the Maeterlinck tradition. The trilogy is my favourite, especially Molloy.”
> Andrei Bely – “Petersburg is a splendid fantasy”
> Bergson
> Alexander Blok
> Robert Browning
> Lewis Carroll
> Anton Chekhov
> Norman Douglas
> Emerson
> Gustave Flaubert
> Franz Kafka
> Nikolai Gogol (non-Ukrainian stories)- “at his best, he is incomparable and inimitable”
> Nathaniel Hawthorne
> Franz Hellens – “Speaking of precursors of the New Novel, there is F H, a Belgian, who is very important … I tried to get someone in the States to publish him … but nothing came of it.”
> Housman
> Ilf and Petrov
> James Joyce (Ulysses, at least – not Finnegans Wake)
> John Keats
> Jorge Luis Borges – “Borges is … a man of infinite talent”
> Hermann Melville
> Osip Mendalstam
> John Milton
> Yuri Olesha
> Edgar Allen Poe (but only as a youth)
> Proust
> Pushkin
> Raymond Queneau – “Q’s Exercises in Style is a thrilling masterpiece and, in fact, one of the greatest stories in French Literature. I am also very fond of Q’sZazie.”
> Rimbaud
> Alain Robbe-Grillet – “His fiction is magnificently poetical and original”
> J D Salinger
> William Shakespeare
> Laurence Sterne – “I love Sterne”
> Leo Tolstoy (some) – “I consider Anna Karenin the supreme masterpiece of c19th literature. It is closely followed by The Death of Ivan Ilyich … “
> Ivan Turgenev
> John Updike
> Verlaine
> H G Wells – “his romances and fantasias are superb”, “a writer for whom I have the deepest admiration is HGW … I could talk endlessly about Wells”
> Mikhail Zoshchenko
> Dislikes
> Bertolt Brecht
> Bryusov
> Michel Butor – “I do not care for Butor.”
> Albert Camus – “It is a shame he [Franz Hellens] is read less than that awful Monsieur Camus.”
> Cervantes (“a cruel and crude book”)
> Joseph Conrad – “I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir-shop style” – “I differ from Joseph Conradically.”
> Theodore Dreiser
> Fyodor Dostoevsky (his best work is The Double, “a shameful imitation of Gogol’s The Nose“) – “I dislike intensely The Karamazov Brothers and the ghastly Crime and Punishment“
> Ilya Ehrenberg
> T S Eliot – “the not quite first-rate”
> William Faulkner – “Faulkner’s corncobby chronicles”
> John Galsworthy
> Nikolai Gogol (Ukrainian stories only) – “at his worst … he is a worthless writer”
> Maxim Gorky
> Ernest Hemingway (except for “The Killers” and “the wonderful fish story”)
> Henry James – “I really dislike him intensely”, apart from the odd turn of phrase
> James Joyce (Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but not Ulysses) – “I detest Punningans Wake” – “the unfortunate Finnegans Wake isnothing but a formless and dull mass of phony folklore, a cold pudding of a book, a persistent snore in the next room, most aggravating to the insomniac” – “Actually, I never liked A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I find it a feeble and garrulous book.”
> Nikos Kazantzakis
> D H Lawrence (Lady Chatterley’s Lover certainly)
> Lorca
> Thomas Mann (the “asinine” Death in Venice certainly)
> Odoevski
> Boris Pasternak – “Pasternak’s melodramatic and vilely written Zhivago”
> Plato
> Luigi Pirandello – “I never cared for Pirandello”
> Ezra Pound – “the pretentious nonsense of Mr.Pound, that total fake”
> Romain Rolland
> Jean-Paul Sartre – “and even more awful [than Camus] Monsieur Sartre.”
> Rabindranath Tagore
> Leo Tolstoy (others) – “I detest Resurrection, I detest The Kreutzer Sonata … War and Peace, though a little too long, is a rollicking historical novel”, though basically written for children
> Thomas Wolfe
> Yevgeny Yevtushenko -”I’ve seen his work. Quite second-rate. He’s a good Communist.”
> Yevgeny Zamyatin
> Writers for children
> G K Chesterton
> Arthur Conan Doyle
> Joseph Conrad
> Rudyard Kipling
> Tolstoy (War and Peace only)
> Oscar Wilde
> Not familiar with
> John Barth
> Thomas Pynchon
> References:
> 17 June 1962 NYHT Books Interview
> Paris Review interview
> BBC Audio Interview – 4th Oct 1969
> Wisconsin Studies, 1968
> Playboy, 1964
> TV-13 NY, 1965
> Conversations with Nabokov, Novel: A Forum on Fiction (Spring, 1971)
> http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/02/lifetimes/nab-v-obit.html "He was introduced to the American literary scene by Edmund Wilson, the late critic, in whose home at Westport, Conn., he wrote his first poem in the United States. The two were intimate friends until the late 1950's, when, according to Mr. Nabokov, "a black cat came between us—Boris Pasternak's novel 'Doctor Zhivago.'"
> Mr. Nabokov called the book third-rate and clumsy while Mr. Wilson praised it. "He started the quarrel," Mr. Nabokov said, and it was exacerbated in 1963 when Mr. Nabokov published his annotated English version of "Eugene Onegin," Alexander Pushkin's romantic novel in verse form.
> Mr. Wilson attacked the translation, hinting that Mr. Nabokov's Russian was faulty. Their donnish dispute raged in The New York Review of Books until their friendship was ruptured." Alden Whitman (1977).
> http://www.d-e-zimmer.de/index.htm
> Segal, Lee: "Under Cover". The Louisville Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), 25-Jan-59, Section 4, p.7 Juliar H11
> Editorial with a few verbatim quotes from an interview with Nabokov by Arthur Turley of Associated Press on Lolita and Pasternak. "Vladimir Nabokov: The Interviews" by Dieter E. Zimmer (1994 – 2008)
> http://www.theguardian.com/books/1999/aug/01/vladimirnabokov
> "The master's sarcasm, his contempt for those inadequately endowed to penetrate, let alone judge, his work, was legend. As were his magisterially dismissive verdicts on such vulgar frauds as Dostoevsky, Freud, Faulkner or Balzac.
> It may take generations to unravel what there is in these celebrated damnations of deliberate provocation and what there is of autonomous insight. The allowed pantheon is small: Flaubert, Gogol, Pushkin, Proust and Joyce. Where a potential rival looms, the mechanisms of defensive denigration are almost instantaneous. Nabokov on Pasternak does not make for pleasant reading." (Georg Steiner)
> http://bookhaven.stanford.edu/2012/02/nabokov-on-lolita-humbert-doesnt-know-a-hawk-from-a-handbag-i-do/:
> "I learned a few things from these videos: According to Mr. Nabokov, I am a philistine. I confess that I am, on occasion, "a user of cozies" - tea cozies, anyway. Who knew it was so easy? On those who think his book is about sex? "But maybe they think in clichés. For them sex is so well-defined there's a gap between it and love. They don't know what love is, and perhaps they don't know what sex is, either." What does it all mean? "I leave the field of ideas to Dr. [Albert] Schweitzer and Dr. Zhivago." He doesn't miss a chance to get in a dig at Boris Pasternak.Responses to "Nabokov on Lolita: "I leave the field of ideas to Dr. Schweitzer and Dr. Zhivago." " Elena Danielson Says (February 28th, 2012) "Thanks so much Cynthia for finding this video, where VN is gleefully putting us on, and visibly
> enjoying LT's cluelessness..VN left a lot of clues for future readers.[ ] Watching VN drinking out of a tea cup, I think VN would approve of your tea cozies.but not of Pasternak, note the snarky reference to Dr. Zhivago.which was competing with his beloved Lolita on the Time Magazine best seller list.VN had to leave for French speaking Switzerland just as Thomas Mann had to flee the US for German speaking Switzerland.Death in Venice is a more serious treatment of the Lolita theme.VN has a lot in common with Mann, whom he intensely disliked, both were competing divas who needed an American audience, but were horrified by the results."
> Google Search
> the archive Contact
> the Editors NOJ Zembla Nabokv-L
> Policies Subscription options AdaOnline NSJ Ada Annotations L-Soft Search the archive VN Bibliography Blog
> All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.
> Google Search
> the archive Contact
> the Editors NOJ Zembla Nabokv-L
> Policies Subscription options AdaOnline NSJ Ada Annotations L-Soft Search the archive VN Bibliography Blog
> All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/