Posts Tagged: Nabokov

Remembering Jenny Diski

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At n+1, philosopher and writer Justin E.H. Smith remembers Jenny Diski, and shares their correspondence. For Diski, death was always the subject, the knot to admire, wryly, and attempt to untie:

…the year before her diagnosis, Jenny invokes the bleak wisdom of Beckett’s line, “Birth was the death of him.” She wonders with Nabokov why we do not worry about the infinite abyss a parte ante, before we were born.

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The Butterfly Effect

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At The New Republic, Laura Marsh examines the interplay—or lack thereof—between Nabokov’s identities as a writer and a lepidopterist. In her investigative and detailed cataloguing of scientific and literary happenings, her only steadfast finding may be this: “There’s a special sense in which all of this activity, however unenlightening, is essentially Nabokovian.”

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The Rumpus Interview with Rob Roberge

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Rob Roberge talks about his new memoir, Liar, the differences between writing fiction and writing memoir, and why every narrator is an unreliable narrator. ...more

We Wish You A Literary Christmas

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From Dickens to Nabokov to Ali Smith, Kate Webb traces the history of authors pondering Christmas, and the 21st century revival of the Christmas story:

Even in our prickly individualism, hemmed in by consumer goods, there are moments when we can escape from safe, homogenized lives to experience the tingling pleasures of heat and cold, of icy days and starry nights.

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Affected

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Over at ZYZZYVA, Sam Shuler reviews Robert Roper’s new work, Nabokov in America. Roper focuses on Nabokov’s experiences in America, and claims that Nabokov was able to write his best work in America because he was so affected by the country:

Roper’s reflections on Nabokov are carried out with a clarity and a directness often missing from the academicians’ spiraling and excessively involuted forays.

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(K)ink: Writing While Deviant #3: Tina Horn

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I would go so far as to say that the entire reason I write is to detect all the irony that language allows and twist it around the truth like razor wire and ivy. That’s how I like my truth: twisted. ...more

Justifying the Template

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Too many stories about mopey suburbanites. Too many well-off white people. A surfeit of descriptions, a paucity of action. Too much privileging of prose for the sake of prose, too little openness to rougher energies. And those endings?

At the New Yorker, Jonathan Franzen writes about “the New Yorker story” as a genre that emerged in the fifties from the inkwells of Cheever et al., with all its well-educated white male melancholy, and the regional variations from the likes of Welty and Nabokov, all beaming with affluent brilliance.

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Reading on Reading on Reading

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For Ploughshares, Clare Beams talks about the strange effect of reading a story in which someone reads a story:

Paintings of people looking at paintings, like this one, can make me fall into a dizzy sort of hole. Gazing at the painting to find, there, painted people gazing at a painting, suddenly I’m not quite sure where I’m actually standing, where the line between me and the painting is.

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The End of Literature

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The rapid rise of “trigger warnings” is starting to impact literature curriculums. For instance, Columbia University students lobbied to include warnings on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a core text in Western Literature syllabi. Columbia refused to include warnings, but essentially capitulated by expunging the text from its curriculum entirely.

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An American Writer from Russia

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At the New Yorker, John Colapinto explores Nabokov’s quintessentially American classic, Lolita, and just how a Russian-born writer could so perfectly capture American culture as an emigre, working specifically with Robert Roper’s new biography on the great writer, Nabokov in America: On the Road to ‘Lolita.’ Of specific and extremely endearing interest: Nabokov’s obsession with the kitsch, and an ad he titled “Adoration of Spoons.”

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Word of the Day: Oblivescence

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(n.); the process of forgetting;

“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. When we read a book for the first time, the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.”

–Vladmir Nabokov, from “Good Readers and Good Writers”

This week, Tim Parks takes us on a wonderfully meditative reflection on something we tend, as readers, to take for granted: the physical act of moving one’s eyes across the page, of engaging with words, and—unavoidably—forgetting them.

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The Saturday Rumpus Essay: Stepfatherhood

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“He was my real dad,” she says. “I just happened to have two.” ...more

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The Rumpus Interview with Steph Cha

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Steph Cha talks about her new novel, Beware Beware, writing compelling and complex Korean American characters, and what reading a book has in common with a level in a video game. ...more

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The Rumpus Interview with Wayne Harrison

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Wayne Harrison discusses his debut novel, The Spark and the Drive, fiction, working as a correctional officer, and Carl Benz's three-wheeled Motor Car. ...more