Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Vladimir Nabokov: Bergsonian and Russian Formalist Influences in His Novels by Michael Glynn appears to more-fully articulate an April 2005 article published in the European Journal of American Culture in which the critic "seeks to counter a contemporary critical orthodoxy that presents Nabokov as a transcendental or Symbolist writer".

Further: "To value the word as symbol ... was in Nabokov's view to detract from the intrinsic value of both word and world and [Glynn] suggest[s] instead that Nabokov enjoyed an epistemological affinity with Russian Formalism." Glynn sets himself apart from "such eminent Nabokovians as Brian Boyd and D. Barton Johnson".

Boyd strikes me as a capable biographer (though he didn't ask such hard questions as the inimitable Stacy Schiff, whose VĂ©ra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): a biography stands, for me, in front of everything written about the Russian author yet). As for D. Barton Johnson, it should be enough that he has a ridiculous name, to dismiss his ideas.

I have the email asking me to pre-order, from Amazon, the book by Glynn (US$$74.95 - about $100 in our currency). But I also have a volume, purchased probably a year ago, and unread, containing 14 essays (including one by Boyd), and published by CUP. A veritable N-feast!


Anonymous said...

Kind of you to mention the new Nabokov book by Michael Glynn. A great read! Michael Glynn

Matthew da Silva said...

The issue must be, however, that nobody in the English-speaking world knows anything about Russian Symbolist verse.

Even knowledge of what happened in their own language, at around the same time, is scant.

So the relevance of your book is questionable.

It might be worthwhile positing some consequences of understanding N's work within the Symbolist mode.