Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023386, Thu, 11 Oct 2012 15:46:22 -0400

Re: THOUGHT: VN's ghosts . . . and PNIN
I don't quite know how to put this with due respect to VN, but am I alone
in finding this business of committees of ghosts attending to the destinies
of the quick so idiosyncratic and trivial as to be a real turn-off? I
enjoyed the bit about Tolstoy and the acrostic in The Vane Sisters, but if it
becomes the underlying metaphysics of his oeuvre, so to speak, it just seems
silly. Of course, each man is entitled to his religion, but as Bertrand
Russell said in response to D. H. Lawrence's "Look, we have come through!",
they may have come through but why should we look?

Anthony Stadlen
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GB - London N22 7XE
Tel.: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857
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In a message dated 11/10/2012 15:31:20 GMT Daylight Time,
nabokv-l@HOLYCROSS.EDU writes:

It could be that the answer to many ghost-related riddles in Nabokov
(including PF) is in "Pnin":
"He did not believe in an autocratic God. He did believe, dimly, in a
democracy of ghosts.
The souls of the dead, perhaps, formed committees, and these, in
continuous session, attended to the destinies of the quick."

It is the interaction and struggle between ghosts, each
protecting his or her own "quick", much like Greek gods, that can
explain the incosistencies.
As for the tradition of ghosts in the Russian literature, it's
huge but it seems that Nabokov's treatment of the theme was
influenced more by spiritualistic and theosophical
teachings immensely popular in Russia at the time of Nabokov's youth.

Tatiana Ponomareva

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
Co„Editor, NABOKV„L

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