Jansy Mello: Distractions and columns not written by Alex Beam  DECEMBER 25, 2014

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/12/25/distractions-and-columns-not-written/tkrrXVT8kDfrAqoDY4n8CP/story.html [...(Vladimir Nabokov bored everyone he met by insisting that “The Overcoat” — “Shinel’” in Russian, and no, I didn’t need the dictionary for that — should be properly translated “The Carrick.” That idea was (1) incomprehensible and (2) nonsense. Nabokov also hated Dostoyevsky and insisted that “Notes from the Underground” should better be called “Memoirs from a Mousehole.”) ]



Tom Whalen (to JM off list): “I thought you might enjoy knowing that in 2002 a small press, Obscure Publications, printed six chapters from my recently published novel The Straw That Broke under the title MEMOIRS FROM A MOUSEHOLE. I'm sorry that Alex Beam didn't mention that we have VN's translation of the title of that Dostoyevsky novella in VN's Lectures on Russian Literature. It's a great title and I was happy to steal it for my chapbook. I don't know the source of Beam's comment about VN "boring everyone he met" about his preferred translation of Gogol's "Shinel," "The Carrick" (which also comes from Lectures on Russian Literature), and Beam's stating VN hated Dostyoevsky is something of a half-truth, since VN admired The Double, Dostoyevsky's most Gogolian work.
The Straw That Broke, by the way, is somewhat Nabokovian (not that anyone has noticed), and narrated by a very smart mouse fond of language games and embedding:



Jansy Mello: Many thanks to Tom Whalen for the opportunity to learn more about his work and activities. His choice of the word “embedding” to describe a shared Nabokovian quality led me to explore what “to embed” means today.*

I’m still not very sure that I understand its applications in their extension to pre-internet literature but I have the impression that V.Nabokov’s effusive allusions, personifications, quotes and subtle references to art and to scientific explorations (in the “Bouvard and Pécuchet” manner) is…how shall I put it? prophetic qua the “www” readership: all the possible sharing and entanglements we now practice are to be found there.

Nevertheless VN’s main quality is still something of a mystery to me, for it lies not in language games, narrative skills, structural qualities and even in the fantasy worlds he created - following his description of the particular Kafka/Gogol manner. I can read VN’s lines over and over because they still guard a sort of unexhaustible (animistic?) novelty – and this is how Nabokov affects me.  



* http://www.theliteraryplatform.com/2013/05/embedding-literature-online-the-readwave-widget/



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