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Vladimir Nabokov
April 3, 2011 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Vladimir Nabokov exhumed in video
posted by puny human (31 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Out of haste, I misread this link as "Vladimir Putin exhumed in video." That would have explained a lot.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:17 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank Humbert this does not do exactly what it "says on the tin".
posted by chavenet at 1:20 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, when it comes to languages, Google Translate is no Nabokov.

LOLNABOKOV
posted by Elmore at 1:20 PM on April 3, 2011


[This is the most wonderful thing I've seen in years.]

Thanks so much for posting! The droll translation merely adds to the fascination.
posted by trip and a half at 1:21 PM on April 3, 2011


If anyone can direct me to the rest of this documentary (5 parts!) I would be forever in their debt.
posted by puny human at 1:24 PM on April 3, 2011


O.M.G. This is the best thing ever! I'm pissing myself.

When asked about American writers, who does he mention before Updike? I am trying to make it out, but can't. (Possibly because I'm having an aneurism or a stroke or something.)
posted by trip and a half at 1:34 PM on April 3, 2011


I was expecting something horrible. Instead I find something beautiful, much like my first reading of Lolita.
posted by Fizz at 1:48 PM on April 3, 2011


"who does he mention before Updike?"

Salinger
posted by puny human at 1:51 PM on April 3, 2011


Ah. Thanks again.
posted by trip and a half at 1:52 PM on April 3, 2011


An absolute loon. Merci.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:15 PM on April 3, 2011


I believe the material is the same as in the video posted here, though cut differently. You can never have too much Nabokov, though.
posted by languagehat at 2:22 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]



For all his hauty airs, in this video Nabokov reveals himself to be as goofy and odd and self-deprecating as I imagined him
posted by bukharin at 2:34 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you are right l-hat. I like mine better though, better quality and it seems to be an unedited segment from the original documentary. That other clip is a bit of a hodgepodge.
posted by puny human at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2011


There's so much I love about Nabokov's writing, and so much I disagree with regarding his assessments of Freud or existentialism. This makes me panic, thinking I have understood nothing of his writing at all. I am a little hesitant to deny that understanding should be a condition for loving a form of art. Then again, I wouldn't be reading Freud if I thought their connection was perfectly clear, either.
posted by rudster at 3:00 PM on April 3, 2011


and so much I disagree with regarding his assessments of Freud or existentialism. This makes me panic, thinking I have understood nothing of his writing at all. I am a little hesitant to deny that understanding should be a condition for loving a form of art. Then again, I wouldn't be reading Freud if I thought their connection was perfectly clear, either.

Freud, blah, blah, blah....fuck your mom.
posted by Fizz at 3:14 PM on April 3, 2011


You can never have too much Nabokov, though.

Oh, but you can, you can! The number of Nabokov knock-off wannabees is testimony enough to that. Very much a story of don't try this at home.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:13 PM on April 3, 2011


You can never have too much Nabokov, though.

I would have agreed with you until I read Ada or Ardor.
posted by IjonTichy at 5:07 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, those shorts... I'm not sure you can really call Nabokov an American writer. Maybe they meant his citizenship.
posted by Shusha at 5:13 PM on April 3, 2011


I would have agreed with you until I read Ada or Ardor.

Seconded. Ada or Ardor has some great setpieces --- Lucette's final scene, for instance --- but overall, not so good.

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, however --- that is an overlooked gem.
posted by Diablevert at 5:16 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I must respectfully voice my dissent. In my opinion, Ada and Pale Fire are masterpieces to match Lolita. I quite enjoy his entire oeuvre, however, and revisit it frequently.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with my boss at my first job. She had heard that I was a 'fan' of VN:

She: Does that mean you've read everything he's written?

Me: I believe so, yes.

She: Really? Everything?

Me: Everything I'm aware of.

She: [rolls eyes]
posted by trip and a half at 6:13 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are no better novels ever written than Lolita and Pale Fire. I'm continually amazed whenever I revisit them. In this interview, I'm happy to see him casually deprecating what some of the rest of the world considers great literature. It's one of the thousand things to love about him, and of course he spoke with authority, too (in both senses). Never take anything for granted. Always make your own judgments. Never give in to the mere opinion of the group.
posted by anothermug at 6:51 PM on April 3, 2011


I'm not sure you can really call Nabokov an American writer

The travelogues in Lolita are some of the best and most uniquely American writing I've ever read. He seems to have thought of himself as a naturalized American. Omonra linked to a great interview last week.

Do you consider yourself an American?

Yes, I do. I am as American as April in Arizona. The flora, the fauna, the air of the western states, are my links with Asiatic and Arctic Russia. Of course, I owe too much to the Russian language and landscape to be emotionally involved in, say, American regional literature, or Indian dances, or pumpkin pie on a spiritual plane; but I do feel a suffusion of warm, lighthearted pride when I show my green USA passport at European frontiers.

posted by Devils Rancher at 7:00 PM on April 3, 2011


Well, he could of course call himself an American. I'm not sure that we should do that without missing some very essential parts of his heritage, his character and his prose.

Lolita, for example, exists in two versions - the English one and the Russian, the latter not being a translation of the former. I can barely stomach the Russian version but enjoy the English. As many of country-less nomads he was a chameleon. I mean, really, April in Arizona? This from the Cambridge and Ithaca dwelling professor who left United States as soon as he could stop teaching.

Now I'm inspired to read some more of his work in English.
posted by Shusha at 7:49 PM on April 3, 2011


"I mean, really, April in Arizona?"

N spent his summers in the western states hunting butterflys. With his wife doing the driving of course. And after fleeing Berlin with his Jewish wife and Jewish son, why shouldn't he be proud to be an American. We are, after all, a nation of immigrants.
posted by puny human at 8:14 PM on April 3, 2011


We are, after all, a nation of immigrants.

Lisa: You know, in a way, all Americans are immigrants. Except, of course Native Americans.
Homer: Yeah, Native Americans like us.
Lisa: No, I mean American Indians.
Apu: Like me.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:03 PM on April 3, 2011


Do you consider yourself an American?

I think there's an answer in Ada, where he has constructed by a sort of backward extrapolation his own imaginary personal country, a huge and somewhat old-fashioned conjunction of America and Russia, a place that somehow makes perfect sense.

I like Ada, by the way: it is a bit more difficult in some respects, but the difficulties are not off-putting and are amply repaid. One of those select books I expect to re-read every few years on a permanent basis.
posted by Segundus at 11:44 PM on April 3, 2011


I must respectfully voice my dissent. In my opinion, Ada and Pale Fire are masterpieces to match Lolita.

I don't think anyone seriously disputes that about Pale Fire (probably the most amazing and enjoyable novel I've ever read).
posted by mediareport at 8:46 AM on April 4, 2011


Btw, I'm in the middle of the 2nd half of Brian Boyd's biography and it's just astonishingly good. Tons of detail about his private life, his political opinions, his works...just a great, great read.
posted by mediareport at 8:49 AM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like Ada, by the way: it is a bit more difficult in some respects, but the difficulties are not off-putting and are amply repaid. One of those select books I expect to re-read every few years on a permanent basis

I've been struggling with this book for a few years now. Each summer I pick it up and get a little bit further. I start from the beginning, and while it is frustrating it is also rewarding!
posted by Fizz at 11:44 AM on April 4, 2011


I almost stopped reading Ada when I got to the phrase "the sunglasses of much-sung lasses." I wouldn't have made it further, I don't think, if I hadn't been reading it for a book club. I don't care if you are Vladimir Nabokov, that is one of the worst puns I have ever read.
posted by IjonTichy at 2:47 PM on April 4, 2011


> Lolita, for example, exists in two versions - the English one and the Russian, the latter not being a translation of the former.

Of course it's a translation of the former; it's not as literal as his Onegin translation (thank God), but come on, get serious, he just reworked some of it to make it read better in Russian (in his own view, obviously). Why can you "barely stomach" it?

I think Ada is wonderful, but I haven't read it in many years; I'm looking forward to doing so again now that I've read more Nabokov and more of the Russian literature it plays off of. In general, I prefer Russian Nabokov to English (which is not to say, of course, that I in any way disrespect his wonderful English novels); Dar (The Gift) is currently my favorite of his books.

I totally agree with mediareport about Brian Boyd's biography; anyone interested in Nabokov should read it forthwith.
posted by languagehat at 4:40 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


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