Vladimir Nabokov appreciation thread - U2 Feedback

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Old 11-12-2004, 08:56 PM   #1
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Vladimir Nabokov appreciation thread

Vladimir Nabokov is, in my estimation, second only to James Joyce as the most complex and provocative writer in the English language of the twentieth century. Though Russian, most of his career after the 1940s was devoted to writing in the English language. I've only read four of his novels:

Invitation to a Beheading
Lolita
Pale Fire
Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (in progress)

Aside from ItaB, these novels were all written in English by someone whose primary language was Russian. And they make better use of the language than most native English writers. Like Joyce, Nabokov was stunning and thorough linguist, speaking and incorporating elements of various languages. Also, for anyone looking for a complex and intriguing read that's more accessible than, say, Finnegan's Wake, Pale Fire is a good place to look. There are three sections: foreward, poem in four cantos (one line short of completion by late John Shade), and the commentary by Professor Kinbote. Presented as a critical edition of Shade's poem, there are constant references to different sections of the novel. Depending on how you read it (straight through as a novel, following some of the references, or following all of the references), you are treated to very, very different versions of the story, getting different pieces of information in different orders. The notion of a circular narrative is reinforced through various symbols, such as words in the poem and the triptych mirrors in Zembla. It's an early postmodern masterpiece.

There are just so many ways to read this book. Despite it's brilliance, I have to be a traditionalist here and say that Lolita is perhaps the better book on the whole. I've read it thorugh three times now, and I keep noticing new things about the structure, language, and pitch black humor. I'm looking forward to getting further into Ada, but it's gonna be a while since I've got so much other stuff going on right now.

Anybody else appreciate the calculated madness of Nabokov's work?
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:08 PM   #2
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I had to be the 1st to be here

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Old 11-12-2004, 09:09 PM   #3
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good times.
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:18 PM   #4
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Where's deathbear???

I thought this thread was about the San Jose Sharks' goalie.


I miss my hockey.
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:19 PM   #5
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I would miss hockey, but i really haven't watched in about 4 years anyway.
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:21 PM   #6
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I have at least 3 different editions of Lolita & can talk about it 19 to the doz. Laughter In The Dark is a sort of foreshadowing of Lolita, so I read that. Otherwise, I have read only an essay or two. Next on my list is Bend Sinister and Speak, Memory if I can get my mits on them.
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:23 PM   #7
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Speak, Memory is definitely on the list, along with Pnin.
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:26 PM   #8
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does anyone else besides me not think that Lolita was raped
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:28 PM   #9
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That's definitely questionable. The problem with Lolita is that you're dealing with a very, very unreliable narrator. While there are more implications of her teasing and seducing him, using him for cheap material gain, etc. you have to keep in mind just who is doing the talking. The man is very open about his sexuality and his violent tendencies, which appear not only in the death of Quilty, but throughout the novel. So I think the blame and the issue of "rape" really depends on how you perceive Humbert. This narrator isssue is true in pretty much all of his work.
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveC
I thought this thread was about the San Jose Sharks' goalie.


I miss my hockey.
i too admit i clicked on this thinking it would be about evgeni. i did get to watch hockey tonight though. the altitude sports network has been rerunning game 5 of the 2001 western conference finals, where the avs pull it out in overtime. yet it just makes me miss it more...
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Old 11-12-2004, 10:16 PM   #11
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I've been told many times to read Pale Fire. It's on the list.
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Old 11-12-2004, 10:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by HeartlandGirl
I've been told many times to read Pale Fire. It's on the list.
You don't read Pale Fire, you experience it!!!

Just kidding. Really. It's a great book. I once had a bookstoreguy go off on me because I said I had read Kerouac's On the Road. "You don't read it man, you experience it! That book changed my life. I was in college until.... "
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Old 11-12-2004, 10:53 PM   #13
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yes, let's talk about vlad and his lo. i have been reading and loving lolita for about fourteen years. i'd guess i've read it about twenty times or so. i actually have an entire collection. different covers, different publications. my favorite copy, though, has all of the most beautiful passages highlighted, including chapter thirteen in all of it's sick and brilliant entirety.

i agree with UL, every reading brings something different.

the question of rape is complicated. was she raped of her innocence, of her childhood? absolutely. but i'm not so sure i can say that she was physically raped. it's an interesting discussion, though. unfortunately, we only get a one-sided narrative, and hum's perception of things is a bit flawed, to say the least.
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Old 11-12-2004, 10:55 PM   #14
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Yeah, I mean, when you purport that prepubescent girls are frequently demon sprites in human bodies, your judgement is questionable, perversely poetic as that assertion may be
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Old 11-12-2004, 11:51 PM   #15
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:appreciate:

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