Nabokov arranges things so that, just when we thought that we had stepped back and found the proper standpoint from which to see his book in perspective, we get an uncanny sense that the book is looking at us from a considerable distance, and chuckling. The resulting discomfiture usually turns into renewed exasperation over Nabokov's egotism, his puerile tricksiness, his silly attempts at novelty.This more or less exactly summarizes my own experience with Nabokov--my frequent unease, as well as my ever-growing admiration. Hopefully, this pass through Pale Fire will mitigate the unease and deepen the admiration. Regardless, the introduction is worth the price of admission.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Rorty and Nabokov
Rereading Pale Fire, I came across this passage. It's not from the book itself, but from Richard Rorty's introduction. (It appears in the Everyman's Library edition).