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Short Stories > "Signs and Symbols" by Vladimir Nabokov

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message 1: by Barbara (last edited Dec 14, 2008 10:33AM) (new)

Barbara | 5892 comments "Signs and Symbols" by Vladimir Nabokov is our next story. It is available online at:
http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1948...

Since Nabokov has been a familiar presence on this board, I won't post biographical information. However, there is some excellent information at the following link:
http://www.randomhouse.com/features/n...

I think this is the third time that I've read this story and it continues to move me. Nabokov may have been the best at conveying the details of the immigrant experience. And, those details always add up to a whole that I rarely experience elsewhere. The image that stuck with me this time was "a tiny unfledged bird was helplessly twitching in a puddle" just as they were leaving the mental hospital after finding out that their son had tried to commit suicide once again. Dictionary.com defines unfledged as "without sufficient feathers for flight." It conveys a sense of the son, but also of helplessness of the parents.

As always after I read Nabokov, I have questions. What are the signs and symbols? Are they only what the son is seeing? Or, are they present for the parents? And, of course, the big question: What was the final phone call?





message 2: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 5892 comments A while ago, I listened to a reading and discussion of this story on a New Yorker fiction podcast. You can download it at the following site (scroll about half-way down the page to find it):

http://www.newyorker.com/online/podca...


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh goodness! I'd forgotten about this one. Downloading. :)



message 4: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 9365 comments What a strange, beautiful little story this is. I loved the details, and like you, Barb, was particularly struck with the "tiny unfledged bird helplessly twitching in a puddle."

I need to read it again.




message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Nabokov tends to re-use characters and he mentions "His cousin, now a famous chess player." Luzhin of VN's The Defense puts me in mind of this boy. Fearful and quite brilliant.

I thought that the final phone call was the hospital announcing he'd succeeded in committing suicide. The girl's calls a sort of precursor?




message 6: by Kenneth P. (last edited Dec 16, 2008 08:50PM) (new)

Kenneth P. (kennethP) | 800 comments I think that's a good read on the final phone call.

This kid is gonna die and the parents will not see him before it happens. It's in the cards. The signs include the power failure on the subway that created delays, the late buses that created yet more delays. It's almost as if a karmic barrier was in place to prevent a meeting with the boy. The symbols include the noted unfledged bird and the drawings of a six year old of beautiful birds with human hands and feet. If Pontalba's idea holds water, two wrong numbers may have been a precursor to the ultimate horrible call that hopefully was not answered that evening, since a shred of optimism was in the air with the plan of "springing" the kid in the morning. One hopes Mom and Dad slept well after their "unexpected, festive midnight tea."

Barb's comments about Nabokov and the "immigrant experience" are interesting since we are in the middle of a 21st century immigration controversy. Add to that the fact that so many of us are immigrants or the offspring of immigrants... well it gives us much to talk about.

This short piece is the tip of an iceberg of history. The Russian Revolution and the Third Reich, for those who survived and for those who didn't, scattered misery to the far reaches of the globe. This little apartment in Manhattan in the late forties is drenched in history.




message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 17, 2008 10:23AM) (new)

This little apartment in Manhattan in the late forties is drenched in history.

That's it exactly, this couple that has been through several wringers already being driven out of Russia, then Europe just as VN was himself. But their only son, God to have their only child in such pain is simply the coup de grace. But I wonder. Will the boy's death release them or drive them even more into the ground.
I lean toward releasing them to enjoy or maybe not 'enjoy' but at least be more content for the rest of their lives. I think having him home as they were preparing for would kill one or both of them. Of course we do what we have to do, but with their evident lack of health I wonder.

The images in the last paragraph of part 2 are heart rending.
...of the incalculable amount of tenderness contained in the world; of the fate of this tenderness, which is either crushed, or wasted, or transformed into madness; of neglected children humming to themselves in unswept corners; of beautiful weeds that cannot hide from the farmer and helplessly have to watch the shadow of his simian stoop leave mangled flowers in its wake, as the monstrous darkness approaches.

That is what their life felt like to them, helpless weeds watching the approaching destroyer. /shiver/




message 8: by Yulia (new)

Yulia | 1626 comments Pontalba, I agree that having the son at home would have made their lives even more miserable. Awful as it sounds, his dying would have freed them, however tragically. But I do believe the third call was from the institution, though I can't imagine they don't pick it up, unless they believe it's the random girl and let it ring and ring.

You quoted two parts that struck me:
"[. . .:] fate of this tenderness, which is either crushed or wasted, or transformed into madness," of which I thought, I can only hope this is a depressive's view of tenderness, as surely it must occasionally triumph and endure, no?

Also, "beautiful weeds," which made me think, aren't we all just beautiful weeds? No, even this is too cynical for me right now, but it is such a lovely phrase.

Thirdly, I was struck this passage: "All this, and much more, she had accepted, for, after all, living does mean accepting the loss of one joy after another, not even joys in her case, mere possibilities of improvement." But is this really what living is about? Perhaps for her, for many even, and for all sometimes, but not for everyone always. They have had a tragic life, but wouldn't a therapist and/or an antidepressant help, or even just reading?

Regardless, I loved this story and want now to check out his short story collection.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

They have had a tragic life, but wouldn't a therapist and/or an antidepressant help, or even just reading?

At the time of VN's writing this story, right after WWII all of that would certainly have not been available to someone like this couple.

Here is something interesting.
http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/...




message 10: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 9365 comments Goodhevvins, Pontalba. What an article! So must we approach all or many of Nabokov's stories as if using the Kabala?



message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 5892 comments Oh goodness, this is a perfect example of why I have approach/avoidance feelings about Nabokov's writing. This story evokes such purely nonlogical feelings, but, underneath, he was probably aiming for something that I just don't get, non-mathematician that I am. And, for some reason, that bothers me. Also, in some of his other writing, I get a sense of detachment from the characters. I didn't feel that with this one.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

So must we approach all or many of Nabokov's stories as if using the Kabala?
I'm laughing Ruth, but in a broad sense, perhaps. Not quite so seriously though. That's what I love about Nabokov, the endless layering and angles of looking at his writing.
We can take it literally, or dive deeper for the meanings. Of course knowing his background puts an entirely new layer on it, or if not layer a new angle at least.

This story evokes such purely nonlogical feelings, but, underneath, he was probably aiming for something that I just don't get, non-mathematician that I am.

Barbara I'm no mathematician either believe me, but there is a balance and symmetry to his writing that appeals to me in the deepest sense.

I'm not sure about a sense of detachment, but he sees his characters clearly, no allusions about their capabilities or flaws, not a bit of it.
I tend to think this story was close to his heart though. When I re-found that site, it is quite extensive by the way, I was trying to find anything I could on this particular passage. :
.....she retrieved some playing cards and a photograph or two that had slipped from the couch to the floor: knave of hearts, nine of spades, ace of spades, Elsa and her bestial beau.

I wondered what significance those particular cards had. Perhaps the spade means death? I'm just not sure. I wonder if the ex-maid Elsa somehow caused the boy to be as he was. I'm not sure if she was with them during the mothers pregnancy or when the child was small. I know it's a long shot. Just meandering.


message 13: by Yulia (new)

Yulia | 1626 comments Barbara, I also preferred this story to some of his other writing, though I'm trying to pinpoint exactly why. Was it easier to relate to, less obviously a literary game? Of course, I didn't check out that article Pontalba gave a link to yet, so I'm probably oblivious to its many layers and angles, and perhaps it's better that way, as I loved the story on a very basic level, and I'm always so wary of craft obscuring the text. Another passage I appreciated was when the mother was looking through the photos. I found it so well-done, when another writer could have made it completely tiresome. He knew how to pick his details, dangit. But that just reminds me of the horror stories of the exams he gave his students. Eeks.


message 14: by Kenneth P. (last edited Dec 19, 2008 08:46PM) (new)

Kenneth P. (kennethP) | 800 comments Loving a story on a very basic level as Yulia says, can be lost forever by delving into the type of anal, endlessly turgid criticism we're talking about. When you look at a painting so powerful that your knees buckle, your heart stops if only for a moment, do you then drag out the magnifying glass in order to hunt for secret clues? Certain things were mentioned three times and they lived on the third floor! Holy crap Watson there's a clue there! I appreciate constructive art criticism. But literary critics of this ilk should've gone to Tech School to become auto mechanics. Good mechanics are a dying breed.


message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 20, 2008 01:39PM) (new)

Loving a story on a very basic level as Yulia says, can be lost forever by delving into the type of anal, endlessly turgid criticism we're talking about.

Anal? I suppose that is in the eye of the beholder. Personally I enjoy a close analysis of the whys and wherefores of a story, not missing the authors intent. Enjoying a story on a basic level is fine, but to miss all the ramifications of various signs and symbols is rather like touring the Louvre blindfolded.


message 16: by Yulia (last edited Dec 20, 2008 04:27PM) (new)

Yulia | 1626 comments Hmm, I wouldn't say I tour museums blindfolded, as I have taken art history classes before, but I do think there is something to be said for instinctive reactions to works of art, whether visual or literary. I was in the MoMA this past Monday to finally see Van Gogh's "Colors of the Night" exhibit and the atmosphere of seriousness was suffocating. No, I wasn't there to be a stand-up comic, but all the would-be art critics analyzing how he'd pushed this forward and trisected that and so on was just sucking the life out of his work. I much preferred the ambiance of fear and disgust upstairs, as Marlene Dumas' exhibit, "Measuring Your Own Grave," which may not have been as technically advanced but was just as psychologically piercing, where the reactions to her work were (almost) all visceral and punching, except for the most repressed viewers. In the same way, yes, I read the classics very seriously, as I do all books, but literary criticism as a field was created for people to get tenure, which is why I had no interest in being an English major. Do I really need to know that the great (to my peers) Homi Bha Bha thinks of post-colonial literature, only to find he's a great snob who can't write a coherent sentence himself? I suppose you're free to see me as a lesser reader, but not a blind one, yet.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I suppose you're free to see me as a lesser reader, but not a blind one, yet.

My goodness Yulia, I don't understand why, or if you think I singled you out, I certainly did not mean anything of the sort. I was as you can see by the quoted part of my post answering Kenneth's assertion of too much analysis being anal. I used the analogy of the Louvre only because Kenneth used the analogy of the wonderful painting.

I believe there is room for both kinds, and even more of reading a book. I believe I mentioned earlier in this very thread the joy of reading Nabokov on several levels, first the surface meaning and then delving into the layers. That happens to be my preference. The whole pleasure of a group such as Constant Reader is the variety of readers and within those people the variety and scope of their reading processes. It brings so much more to the table than a lone reader and their own views.

I don't know you, so I certainly cannot see you as any type of reader, lesser or better than anyone else, and wouldn't dream of implying anything about you.



message 18: by Yulia (last edited Dec 20, 2008 04:29PM) (new)

Yulia | 1626 comments I'm sorry if I was so defensive. I just get freaked out by people seeing book dissections as the truest way of experiencing a work. You're completely right that the value and joy of a group with such varied perspectives like CR is that you can see a book on so many levels and take from the posts what you wish, whether it's a more technical analysis or a breakdown of themes or a focus on the specific language used and its power. I do apologize for being defensive. I'm just not sure the blindfolded analogy is quite fitting in this context: certainly it'd be more like visiting the Louvre without going on a guided tour or with an art critic pointing out what one would definitely otherwise miss. And I can't even say i haven't enjoyed particular tours in the past, especially one on illuminated texts by a religious scholar and priest(?) at the Getty. But it's certainly not the only way to appreciate art and literature.



message 19: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 20, 2008 03:54PM) (new)

But it's certainly not the only way to appreciate art and literature.

I agree, as any art form, the eye of the beholder is the final judge for each of us.
There is no more one way of reading a book than anything else in this life. The fun is in finding out all the ways of appreciating anything. :)



message 20: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 20, 2008 04:11PM) (new)

It sounds to me like this thread has taken a good start to driving readers away, and not only anal retentive analytical readers like myself, but others too who don't enjoy this kind of ad hominem mudslinging when a divergent opinion appears. Brawls cost members. Always. I've seen it happen too many times not to speak up.
And there's no need for tossing words like anal and turgid and crap around either, whether or not one agrees with another person's opinion or approach. There are more respectful ways of referring to close analysis of text and the people who do it.


message 21: by Yulia (last edited Dec 20, 2008 06:12PM) (new)

Yulia | 1626 comments I would think it has more to do with last-minute decorating, gift buying and family get-togethers than any perceived snowball fights. Regardless of the season, it often takes people a week or two to read the short story. And certainly not all discussions are as successful as your moderating of American Pastoral. But if you're trying to avoid use of the work a***, why not avoid calling yourself a*** retentive? Consider calling yourself detail-oriented, rigorous, attentive, or just plain a***ytical.


message 22: by Kenneth P. (last edited Dec 20, 2008 08:31PM) (new)

Kenneth P. (kennethP) | 800 comments Mercy, look what I've done. I should probably apologize for being Mr. Negative but I don't think I will. For the record, Pontalba, I used "anal" not for too much analysis but for the particular piece of analysis that you provided. As you know I didn't like it but I'm happy to know that you found it meaningful and helpful.

Yulia's correct to say that a lot of literary criticism is part of the "publish or perish" imperative of academic English Departments. This tends to muddy the waters of literary analysis. But as Pontalba correctly points out, "the fun is in finding out all the ways of appreciating anything."

A word about ad hominem mudslinging. My use of the horrible epithets "anal" and "turgid" were not in response to any post in Constant Reader but to a piece of literary criticism provided here as an internet link.

The disgusting word "crap" was "tossed around" in the context of Holy Crap in a not very clever attempt at an exchange between Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Put me in the electric chair.

Yulia, your last post (Message 21) was clever and funny. You never disappoint me.

Contrary to the assertion that I am driving readers away, we seem to have gained a contributor. Welcome to the discussion Russ2. I'd be curious to hear your opinions on the work in question.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

But if you're trying to avoid use of the work a***, why not avoid calling yourself a*** retentive? Consider calling yourself detail-oriented, rigorous, attentive, or just plain a***ytical.


To make the point quite clearly that I take the remark as applying to me, and thereby make my response more a personal and less an abstract objection. The same as I might do in response to some slurring remark against "old" people, for example, should one ever occur.


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 21, 2008 05:05AM) (new)

Contrary to the assertion that I am driving readers away, we seemed to have gained a contributor. Welcome to the discussion Russ2. I'd be curious to know your opinions on the work.

I'm not a new contributer here, having been in the discussion of Springtime in Fialta for example. After I have read the work and have a suitably superficial opinion I'll give it.


message 25: by Yulia (last edited Dec 21, 2008 05:56AM) (new)

Yulia | 1626 comments I'm sure other members would be better at weighing in on this issue, but I was never aware of age discrimination on CR. And if it did occur, why bring it up in this discussion, when the people involved are absent, and not when it occurred?

But isn't this getting away from the lovely story Nabokov wrote? I'll have to read the article Pontalba linked to, to see what insight I gain from it. I would even own up to dismissing its analysis prematurely and unfairly, if it turns out to be the case. Sure, I've been hasty in dismissing literary criticism before, but I say this as one whose friends were all English and comp lit majors in college. Perhaps I have post-colonial lit crit stress disorder. But I see already, half-way through the article, it does raise valid and fascinating interpretations and disputes, which I'll do into when I've finished the article.

I should say, though, Russ2, your comment about giving a "suitably superficial opinion" after reading the story is rather snide. Why pretend to be so just when you can be just as cutting in your remarks? Kenneth obviously didn't mean you haven't participated in past CR discussions, but that you hadn't entered this particular one, except to chastise.


message 26: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 20, 2008 11:29PM) (new)

For the record, Pontalba, I used "anal" not for too much analysis but for the particular piece of analysis that you provided. As you know I didn't like it but I'm happy to know that you found it meaningful and helpful.
Kenneth,
I'm interested to hear that Zembla is considered by you to be, in your words, anal - considering it is a site that is "a site devoted to the life and works of author, translator, and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov" and is the official site of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society.

The main page...

http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/...


message 27: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) Russ2 wrote: "It sounds to me like this thread has taken a good start to driving readers away, and not only anal retentive analytical readers like myself, but others too who don't enjoy this kind of ad hominem m..."

Russ,

Easy big guy. Sounds to me like you are being unnecessarily defensive. I'm 71 and have never ever caught a hint of ageism.

Also I couldn't find your original "dissection" anywhere on this thread.

I've also never read an attack on an individual, just honest reactions to what the person said.

And so it goes....

Ed Hahn


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

This has gone far beyond two-way communication into erroneous tit-for-tat of things that were never said by anyone, so I'll leave it at that before we all get deleted.


message 29: by Barbara (last edited Dec 21, 2008 05:04AM) (new)

Barbara | 5892 comments Hey, everyone, this can be a discussion of different ways to appreciate literature and art. Some people like to analyze, some simply want it to wash over them and some are on the continuum in between. In my own experience, I have had all of these feelings at different times. Nobody's right, nobody's wrong.


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 21, 2008 05:14AM) (new)

Ed,
I'd just like to add one thing, Russ2 did not say anything about ageism, if you read his post #23 closely, you will see he only uses that as an "IF it were to happen" scenario.




message 31: by Yulia (last edited Dec 21, 2008 10:30PM) (new)

Yulia | 1626 comments Hmm, I take back my curiosity into the world of Nabokovian signs and symbols.

I did appreciate the distinction between siuzhet (plot, or the events presented chronologically in the narrative) and fabula (story, or the events as they occurred in real life) and Nabokov's skillful interplay of the two.

And for those wondering about the meaning of the three cards, they "foretell the 'monstrous darkness' of disaster and death not to the boy and his parents but to their torturers and butchers, while the fate of the innocent remains untold," as explained in the article.

But it did become rather ridiculous as the author was pointing out all the numerical codes in the story. For example: "In numerical terms it means that ten is presented here as the double of five, which implies the duality of being, its split into the known/unknown halves." And the implied Jewish heritage of the family, suggesting the six-pointed Star of David, referring also to the number 6, which was dialed instead of zero, which itself means cipher . . . well, sure, these are all great if you're trying to write a paper or are experiencing referential mania, but they served little value in enriching the story or unraveling its supposedly mystic meaning.

But the author, Alexander Dolinin, won't let readers simply choose how they wish to read the story. Those, like me, who prefer to experience works without going into the critical history of it, are reenacting the "stale clichés of reader-response criticism."

Meanwhile, it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario if you choose to analyze the symbols in the story or not. If you do, William Carroll would have us believe they're guilty of murder: "those readers who interpret numerous 'signs and symbols' in the story as clues allowing one to solve the puzzle are guilty of 'referential mania' and therefore bear an 'esthetic responsibility' for the boy's death." (All I could wonder is, isn't Nabokov the executor by leading us to read the signs and symbols in a particular fashion?)

Alternately, "Those who refuse to look for a hidden closure beneath the deceptive openness of 'Signs and Symbols' are more guilty of a 'referential mania' than their opponents because they, like the insane boy, believe that everything in the world created by Nabokov refers to them and they are free to project their own doubts, uncertainties, and fears upon it." But this is itself insane, accusing readers of insanity by assuming they'll respond to the story's open ending in a paranoid fashion if they don't read the signs and symbols portending the boy's death.

The article ends with the command that we "obey the rules of their game," but wasn't "obey" removed from the marriage vows this past decade or two? Can't we simply, or simplistically as some would suggest, cherish Nabokov's work?

There, I've read the article. I can't be accused of not giving it a chance. May I simply appreciate the variety of CR opinions now?


message 32: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 7590 comments I'm not reading the article, so I guess I'm one of the great unwashed. I enjoyed the story for the story. If I have to ferret out some hidden insider meaning, I think I'll pass. I like what Flannery O'Connor said about stories. (I'm just paraphrasing here.) "I don't know about a story's 'meaning.' I just know if it is dead or alive." This story was alive to me.


message 33: by Yulia (last edited Dec 21, 2008 05:35PM) (new)

Yulia | 1626 comments A wise decision.


message 34: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 856 comments I've never been a big fan of Nabakov, but I was enjoying this story and shouldn't have read the article. I am one of those people who does not enjoy the puzzle of a story; it always makes me feel as if the author is testing my analytical abilities. Takes all of the fun out for me.

But I do appreciate that this kind of analysis is fun for English majors, etc., so I should just read the story and avoid the dissection. I won't go out of my way to read more Nabakov, either. I feel him peering over my shoulder and judging me as wanting.


message 35: by Kenneth P. (new)

Kenneth P. (kennethP) | 800 comments For me, more than anything, there is the status of the individual as little more than an insect in a cataclysmic world. What is an individual man? What is a woman caught up in wars, revolutions, rampant genocide? Swept from one part of the globe to another by historic events that dwarfed individuals, this man and this woman made the most meaningful statement possible-- they created a child. As a baby, he looked more surprised than most babies. And way beyond their control the baby is born "surprised"..... and doomed. We are so huge within ourselves and so tiny in the grand scheme.

Sorry, but I must relate a line from one of my favorite movies, A Thin Red Line. It's WW2, the South Pacific. A subordinate says to his sergeant (Sean Penn), "I'm twice the man you are." The sergeant replies, "A man, himself, in this world...... is nothin."


message 36: by Stephen (last edited Dec 22, 2008 09:59AM) (new)

Stephen (Capodistria) I have been trudging through the unabridged Les Miserables for some time now. A couple of days ago I came upon the passage where Victor Hugo compares the four gossips of Paris to the three hags in Macbeth. Of the four gossips Hugo says:

All four of them seemed to be standing at the four corners of old age, which are decrepitude, decay, ruin, and sadness.

Finding that incredibly depressing, I determined to take a break from Victor Hugo and read the Nabakov story under discussion. And I find this among many other similar examples in this story:

. . . and every time she glanced at his old hands (swollen veins, brown-spotted skin), clasped and twitching upon the handle of his umbrella, she felt the mounting pressure of tears.

I finished this story and took a look in the mirror. In the words of Dave Mason that Joe Cocker renders so well:

I’m not feelin’ too good myself.

These damned short stories have been a relentless emotional onslaught lately.



message 37: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 5892 comments We do need something with a bit of humor here, don't we, Steve? I'm going to be asking for titles again after our next story, so be on the lookout for something with a lighter heart. I will do the same. I'm going to be starting Anna Karenina after Christmas so I will need some levity as well.


message 38: by Stephen (last edited Dec 22, 2008 11:44AM) (new)

Stephen (Capodistria) Great idea, Barb! I shall. In the meantime I'm going to rinse with my fifty-fourth reading of "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

I have no idea precisely what that last telephone call bodes, but given the tone of this story up to that point, it can't be anything good. Perhaps the Prince has lost everything in some Ponzi scheme.

--University of Iowa; Class of '69; English Major


message 39: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 22, 2008 11:55AM) (new)

It's true there is a great deal of unhappiness and grief in the story at every turn. But there is also great love balancing it, the unselfish unconditional love of the parents for the boy, the couple for each other. One passage that struck me as particularly loving between them was put out sort of off handed by Nabokov.

In silence he sat down on the steps and in silence rose when some ten minutes later she came, heavily trudging upstairs, wanly smiling, shaking her head in deprecation of her silliness.

They're both exhausted from the ordeal of traveling an unfruitful journey to see the son, disappointment at every turn and yet even in his exhaustion he doesn't berate her, doesn't even bat an eye, just waits patiently for her to arrive, and her "trudging", what a word, says it all, the set of her shoulders, her exhaustion all in that one word, yet she can smile at her husband. Where there is love, there is hope.
I love that scene.




message 40: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 5892 comments Ah, Pontalba, great choice to lighten the load of this story. Nabokov does know how to balance, doesn't he?


message 41: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (Capodistria) I don't know about that, Pontalba. I think you may be bringing your own romanticism to the table there.

A better and more Nabokovian way of phrasing it might be that love is a transitory comfort in the face of hopelessness.


message 42: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 22, 2008 12:35PM) (new)

Steve, I'll grant you - I am a romantic. :)
However. Big however. Nabokov was a romantic as well and certainly injected his stories with same. His long marriage with his Vera is one of the great love stories in my opinion and it always managed to come out in his stories.

I feel very strongly that Nabokov felt love was forever.

Barbara, that's only one of the many facets of Nabokov I can't resist. His sense of humor and play is priceless.


message 43: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 571 comments For those in want of cheerful tales, may I suggest David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries", about his experience as a Macy's elf. Funniest Christmas tale ever. If you do not have access to this in book form, here is a link to Sedaris' reading the tale on NPR way back in 1992:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

Theresa, in snowy, snowy Seattle, marooned at the top of Queen Anne Hill





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