Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021044, Wed, 8 Dec 2010 19:17:29 -0200

Re: query; music and Nabokov
Don Stanley: "Been listening to Richard Strauss, reading about him, and he reminds me of Nabokov. Same sense of humor, interesting letters, full-term marriage, hair-unfriendly forehead and an insistence on avoiding easy aesthetic categories. ..The only significant reference to music I can think of offhand is the aversion to jazz by his surrogate John Shade. Anyway, my query: is music a major factor in Nabokov’s work?"

JM: Nabokov's contrapunctal tactics, different keys and the musicality of his sentences are a major factor in his work. In his words (SO,35):

"I am perfectly aware of the many parallels between the art forms of music and those of literature, especially in matters of structure, but what can I do if ear and brain refuse to cooperate? I have found a queer substitute for music in chess - more exactly, in the composing of chess problems."

A few pages before this admission (SO,11), in relation to fake moves in chess, the conjuror's magic and the tall stories, he said:

"I am fond of chess but deception in chess, as in art, is only part of the game; it's part of the combination, part of the delightful possibilities, illusions, vistas of thought, which can be false vistas, perhaps. I think a good combination should always contain a certain element of deception."

How could we describe "deception" in music? Do you think that Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegel" displays a similar kind of deceptive ingredients, as those that Nabokov values in Art? ( I wonder if my question will make any sense to you).

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