Thursday, May 05, 2011

Book: Happiness and Nabakov

In her book The Enchanter - Nabakov and Happiness- by Lila Azam Zanganeh reviewer Alexander Theroux writes about Nabakov:

Oversimplying the Nabokovian equation, Ms. Zanganeh sees this Russian-American author almost exclusively as "the great writer of happiness." She glances at various kinds of delight and joy in his work, focusing mainly on the theme of love. ("Love—the claire-obscure arabesque of the Nabokovian universe.") In a typical bout of flattery, she holds Vladimir and Vera, his wife, up as a nearly perfect loving couple. Cloyingly she writes: "We know nothing of their private lives. Except that they slept in adjoining rooms. Perhaps he tiptoed to hers. And late into the night, he would look at her, lying naked, supine, gray-blue eyes lifted skyward. Then soundlessly, he would again disappear in the dark haze of his room."

Nabakov was a lepidopterist and couldn't drive. He was a polyglot who could write with ease in English, Russian and a few other languages. He depended on his wife to drive him on his butterfly collection expeditions, the result of which is that he has a genus of butterflies named after him. He was also a snob and a curmudgeon belittling other writers in no mean terms. Another writer remembers sending a gift and a book to be autographed and receiving them back - the present unaccepted and the book unautographed.

So that's one who was one of the most talented writers in the world. The strange world of writing is enigmatic, what shall I say?

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