[ilds] Takes

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 16 09:32:10 PDT 2009


Grove,

I too prefer the Quartet over Lolita, and I wonder about Lolita, but  
not for the reason you give.  Nabokov writes some of the most  
exquisite prose in the English language, and this novel approaches  
Ulysses in terms of the perfection of its structure and composition.   
But I'm very queasy about an elderly Humbert Humbert chasing among an  
underaged "nymphet," as though the undertaking were one of the  
Russian's butterfly hunts.  I'm about as shocked as Mountolive was  
when he stumbled on a brothel of child prostitutes.  Durrell  
overwrites and some of his writing, on the most basic level of the  
sentence, doesn't hold up to scrutiny.  The man's imagination,  
however, is truly great, his richest gift.  That's part of what  
Charles Bryant admired in his reading of "Lawrence Durrell" — the  
Dickensian inventiveness.  I haven't read Anthony Powell.


Bruce


On Aug 16, 2009, at 7:36 AM, gkoger at mindspring.com wrote:

> Bruce et al.,
>
> As much as I enjoy and admire Nabokov's best works, I must disagree  
> with those who find his talent "finer" than Durrell's. I'd be  
> willing to wager, although I may not be around to collect, that  
> Durrell's reputation will eventually eclipse Nabokov's. /Lolita/ is  
> certainly Nabokov's masterpiece, but despite its myriad allusions I  
> find it small and self-contained. Its cast of characters is limited,  
> and its language shows signs of the artificiality that in my opinion  
> would vitiate Nabokov's subsequent works.
>
> The /AQ/, in contrast, is far more expansive, a "masterpiece of  
> size" that opens outward and has much more to say about the world.  
> Unlike Nabokov's style, its style seems to me much more rooted in  
> the natural richness of the English language as it has developed  
> over the centuries. Although /The Revolt/ is written in a plainer  
> style, it maintains the expansiveness of the /AQ/. (I'm speaking in  
> non-literary terms, I know, but I hope that someone in agreement  
> will recast the argument.) And surely Durrell put a lot of work into  
> revising it.
>
> As far as great novels of the century go, at least in English, I'd  
> say we have to look to Anthony Powell's sequence /A Dance to the  
> Music of Time/ to find a work as important as the /AQ/. All other  
> things being equal, size does count.
>
> Am I the only one to have these thoughts?
>
> Grove
>
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