Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021058, Sun, 12 Dec 2010 16:21:02 -0800

Re: query; music and Nabokov

Regarding Nabokov’s interest, or not, in music, thanks for the helpful
quotation from Strong Opinions.

As far as music being deceptive, I suppose you could look at it that
way. I don't know about Till Eulenspiegel, but when Shostakovich and
others encrypt notes corresponding to their initials (or a girlfriend’s
initials) within the score, maybe Nabokov’s anagrams come to mind. And
then there is Haydn’s sneaky chord crash in the Surprise symphony; one
can never quite get to the volume control in time.

Thanks again, Jansy


Don Stanley:.. Anyway, my query: is music a major factor in Nabokov’s

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

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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