[ilds] VN & LD

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Sun Oct 11 14:04:46 PDT 2009

-----Original Message-----
From: gkoger at mindspring.com

Surely many of Nabokov's remarks on literature (including his wholesale dismissal of numerous highly regarded writers) are more "questionable" than Durrell's. 


I would put it another way.

If I had the opportunity to sit down for an evening with either VN or LD, I would choose LD.  

Durrell's recorded conversations on tape and film  seem to me more human, more humane.  They sparkle with surprising jumps.    He learned to talk in the cafes and wine cellars, and he is very nimble.  

VN had the privilege to always to from above.  Thus his stated preference--ungranted by his university deans--for recording his lectures to be played over tape to students, with whom he did not wish to mingle. . . .

LD's ideal was more like Kipling's Kim or Homer's Odysseus--a "little friend of all the world," able to walk among all orders and know their minds and manners. . . .

And LD's remarks are full of a kind a late-Roman pity for the fallen, those benighted writers of a previous generation who have passed on and whose reputations may also be shuffling into oblivion. . . .

I do not find those surprising sorties or that sympathy for the fallen in VN.  

VN is strikingly cold and aphoristic, and in his discrimination and his dismissal he is absolutely imperial, cutting--like some old fencing master at service in the court of a princeling, taking his aristocratic charge to task for not keeping up to the mark. . . .

I believe that VN called Borges "a metaphysician in a sombrero."  I will be beholden to anyone who can give me the precise quote. . . .

Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Charles-Sligh at utc.edu

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