[ilds] Durrell's Diction

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Sat May 1 10:32:23 PDT 2010

gkoger at mindspring.com wrote:
> In regard to Durrell's diction, it's worth remembering that Edmund Wilson once complained about Vladimir Nabokov's "addiction to rare and unfamiliar words." Nabokov's response was that he might have "rare and unfamiliar things to convey."
Very witty.  Very wise. 

Wilson was a great critic, but his terms suppose a corrective position, 
saying "these are the better words; those words should not be 
used"--marking Nabokov as if Nabokov set out to write term papers.   

Again, that approach to reading is not without a certain kind of 
interest, but only if we admit the approach reveals far more about 
Wilson's imagination, tastes, and limits than the imagination, tastes, 
and limits of Nabokov.

Certainly Nabokov could be just as testy and a stickler a la Flaubert.  
That is why Nabokov's /Lectures on Literature/ are most memorable as 
performances, the record of how a great mind took up a score or script 
written by Dickens or Flaubert or Kafka and played them out 
magnificently before an audience in bobby-socks and poodle skirts. 


Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu

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