NABOKV-L post 0021048, Thu, 9 Dec 2010 11:53:37 -0500

Re: query; music and Nabokov
By topsy-turvical coincidence I was at the bookstore yesterday thumbing through Oliver Sacks' latest book, Musicophilia, and he quotes from SO, I believe, that VN was pretty amusical, along with Ulysses Grant among others. He also quoted Dimitri on the topic from a forthcoming book. So I'd say the influence of music on VN's work is presumably rather minimal. On the other hand I hear the line, the way you smile at dogs, as an allusion to Gershwin's 1937 song, They Can't Take That Away From Me.

On Dec 8, 2010, at 4:17 PM, Jansy wrote:

> 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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