Thursday, January 06, 2005

Vladimir Nabokov and words

I wanted to write about something entirely unrelated to Nabokov. But I shall stick to this author in this blog entry merely to provide space to the non-existent reader of this blog, to catch his breath which he has run out of while being rammed with views on pedagogy. Back to Nabokov; I like his sheer passion for words and he takes the least pains to hide it. He writes to please himself more than anything else. The words he chooses (even in some of the translations of his Russian works) are grand and consciously intended to make the reader intoxicated while he innocently consumes each sentences after another in the world Nobokov weaves with a passion I find waning amongst recent authors. Authors of the present world prefer commercial success and find solace in banausic pursuits. I do not discard their works as pablum. No, I don't, for I am yet to understand the ellusive import of their words. Nabokov introduces images with a deceptively childish insouciance, that the reader is forced to accept the truth of the inceidents related. He is definitely a master of his craft and he presents it with a deliberation that is at once interesting and redoubtable. I am currently reading The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (available for review at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0679729976/qid=1105028490/sr=8-8/ref=pd_ka_1/104-3590011-4083954?v=glance&s=books&n=507846 ). He is also famous for his novel Lolita (available for review at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0679723161/qid=1105028490/sr=8-11/ref=pd_ka_4/104-3590011-4083954?v=glance&s=books&n=507846 ), which has supplied the much necessary name for pornographic sites dealing with young women (more like teenagers). It is unfortunate that his work has leant itself to such use (or abuse), but how could we expect a crafty writer as Nabokov to indulge in sortlege, and predict the coming of the internet and its employment as a means of spreading thrills to a bored and unoccupied public. He might have opened the doors to a new cult of writers who hinge around providing cheap pleasure as a means to fame and money as much as we could blame the Godfather (visit http://slate.msn.com/id/3295/ and search for cat or visit http://www.moviemistakes.com/film544/trivia and read through it.)for a growing number of cats being kept as pets. Anyway, if you love words, Nabokov can delight you with a wonderful spread that would you leave you gasping for more.

5 comments:

  1. Another Coincidence!! I just started reading "Lolita" this morning. More on it after I have read a considerable portion...

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  2. Will wonders never cease. That novel must be read at least for the way Humbert starts his desciption about Lolita (I feel too tired to type it out but will, the most essential part: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta). Such a clear display of a man who loves words and the music that accomapanies each.

    Mighty coincidence.
    Ever read Kazuo Ishiguro (he wrote the now famous movie, Remains of the day)?

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  3. I am beginning to agree with you about Nabokov. I have a friend who knows German, Sanskrit and is now trying to learn Russian. He says Russian is at once the most beautiful and most difficult languages to grasp - a language that is immensely flexible to figures of sppech and imageries [a tad like tamil?]. I wonder if the english of Nabokov has something to do with the fact that he was a Russian writer... His language is indeed lyrical. I am not a big fan of authors who use complex big words for I think it hinders the flow. But in Nabokov's case it seems justified.

    As for Lolita, I suspect that people who term it "pornographic" have not read the novel in its entirety. Nowhere did I find a graphic description [and I have read a considerable portion of the book] and the relations between Humbert and Lolita are merely hinted at - Nabokov playing hide and seek with his words. But I must admit Humbert leaves me with a sense of distaste and disgust and I respect the author all the more for that. [I better stop here for this is longer than your post I suspect :)]

    As for Kazuo Ishiguro, I have not had the pleasure of reading his works yet... Maybe sometime soon.

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  4. Finally. Oh my god! Finally. Someone who sees sense. I am so glad to have your comments on this blog. Most people I know think that a writer always projects his whims through his characters (The Paris Review had a collection of interviews with authors and many find this the most silly notion that readers hold). I had a friend who, after receiving a copy of Lolita as a birthday present, promptly went and exchanged it for something else!! Cool.
    I read stories after pre-categorising (does such a term exist?) them into stories and poetry. The first category (to which stories of O Henry and R.K.Narayan belong) are purely for a good story and a little else. The second category gathers works of Saki and Nabokov where the juxtaposition of the most appropriate words is intoxicating enough to allow me energy to search for a story. So Nabokov does disappoint me (with his short stories) many a time if I would search for a story, but never when I want to see pure romance of words enacted before my very eyes. Saki juggles poetry and story well.

    So what genre do you prefer?

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  5. Parvati1:39 PM

    @Eroteme: Besides his short stories or novels, I find Nabokov as a nature writer completely captivating. An entirely different sort of a pleasure it is, his Butterflies is a must read methinks; others might definitely not agree. I loved it - tedious, very voluminous but pure detail filled magic...

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