Mastroianni, I have a question.
When you post threads, you always post them as questions. However, those questions tend to be rhetorical and reflect your opinion on the matter before the actual original post is even read. As you post several threads weekly and sometimes several threads daily, my question is, when you’re posting them, are you thinking to yourself, “I really wonder about this…” or are you thinking, “This ought to get them riled up…”?
I ask this because you tend to take basically cliched stereotypes of people’s assumptions and turn them into questions, within the question itself underlining your disagreement with the idea in the first place. It is helpful in its own awkward way because I’ve noticed that your threads do allow people to retread their stance about those assumptions, and in the process have to work out afresh what they already believed before—this is more useful than one would expect, it’s a good way to sort of hit the reset switch of one’s own assumptions to make sure one hasn’t fallen into dogma about one’s own beliefs. Also, sometimes you are capable of responding within the thread itself (though usually not in the first post) with some interesting points of your own.
Which is why I don’t technically discredit the posts, because somehow people manage to figure out ways to respond and manage to take those basic responses and build on something, usually transcendent, from the original post. You yourself ultimately end up engaging in these dialogs after the initial post, but typically I find the initial post is a process of stating an assumption and letting people’s assumptions on that assumption build into something different.
So again, my question is, are you doing this on purpose so that we have things to talk about, or are you really just poking us to see how we move? It seems to go both ways, but I hardly see the point of posting a “Lolita wtf?” thread without, y’know, having some actual questions or actual examples to build off of.
-But he was MORE than “entitled” to say what he wanted because he had the literary practice to back it up-
So at what point does one obtain the appropriate credentials to have a valid opinion of given work, David? And aren’t we talking about two different things here? Mastro’s talking about his initial reponse to the rhetorical strategies of the novel; you’re talking about “dimissing” Nabokov as an artist. You’re a smart guy, a pretty good writer in your own right, and elderly enough to have considerably more experience with this sort of thing than the Mastro, so wouldn’t it be more productive for you to point out, say, that the “how” Humbert tells his story is in many ways more important than the “what” of the story, and that this is where the “elusiveness” joins up with the “seriousness” in Lolita? I mean, anyone can lord over these forums, leaned back with a sneer and occasion spit down petty insults upon this member or that. The qualifications to be “entitled” to do that are really nil.
Incidentally, I agree with you—certainly VN was entitled to his opinions, and, yes, he’s wrong about Conrad and Mann. The point is that even accomplished artists and critics aren’t immune to dismissing works based solely on biases and prejudices of which they themselves may not be fully aware.
Pale Fire is a great book.
Well, well. Polaris is my hero. I think 50% of Mastroianni’s ceaseless threads involve thoughtless questions he wants answered where he seems unwilling to do the research for himself. The other half tend to involve him “asking for permission” to publicly support an opinion. “Is it ok to like this..?” “What do you guys think about this…?” Polaris is right, it’s not as if no good comes of them. I’m just venting mild frustration. It’s as if Mastroianni/CharlesDegaulle is studying on how to be respected by cinephiles.
And for what you said earlier, Polaris, you should totally read Pale Fire. It’s kind of the ultimate -meta work.
Yikes… I made him leave. I knew I shouldn’t have typed that. I hate doing this. But god. How much inanity can a man take.
f*** you, i love Lolita, i love Nabokov, I love Ada or Ardor a little better, and I love Pale Fire
i have placed my book down before to take time out to let the chills and tears swell after reading select Nabokov sentences (especially Ada or Ardor). it is clear he loved the English language.
I’ve had two large chunks of Nab’s prose (one from Lolita and one from Ada) copied to my clipboard for, like, two hours, but I haven’t pasted and posted them, because it seems like everyone engaged in this discussion has, in fact, read one or both of those works, and it wouldn’t be that useful reading blocks of text from them.
Despite my agreement that Mastro’s threads are inane, I’m glad to have this opportunity to rave about an author I’m generally (and especially right now) enamored with.
Lauren Leto wrote a list of stereotypes of readers, based on their favorite author . Her stereotype for Nabakov readers is Men who use words like ‘dubious’ and ‘tenacity’. I dig it.
“One should be commended for being able to construct a complex but fluidly written story.”
Didn’t Lolita accomplish that? Pfft, if parts of Lolita were “unreadable” for ya, stay far away from Bend Sinister – one of Nabokov’s best novels and my personal favourite.
EDIT: “I would have to read it again, since it’s been a while. I can’t exactly refer to anything offhand.”
Then why the hell did you start a thread on it? God, use some brain power.
Long ago I asked then-Charles Degaulle essentially this same question. Seems to me if his motives are anything other than what they appear to be at the most superficial level, there would be no value to him to admit this. Better just to let it ride, then come back in a little while with a new name. If it’s trolling, it’s a fairly benign form.
No, it’s true. I’ve held off calling Mastroianni out for a while because honestly, it keeps the dialog going here and keeps the board from stagnating by creating ripples in its own way. The effect is better than the initial cause.
I just have to wonder, trolling or not, what is hoped to be achieved by bringing up a debate and then taking no stance on it from the basis of the actual text. Some people do fully admit, “Look, I don’t remember it that well but someone the other day said this and I disagree so I thought I’d bounce it off you guys” or something to that effect. I don’t know if that’s Mastroianni’s general habit of willfully presenting simplistic notions as rhetorical questions, or if he really just likes seeing how we’ll respond. Either way, I’d technically rather have him around than not, so “scaring him away” is not the point of this calling-out, just a little bit of clarity.
Fair enough. He didn’t respond last time. Maybe this time he will.
Polaris, you echo my sentiments. I would rather have him around than not.
Usually, the best way to scare a poster like Mastroianni away is to ask for a little bit of clarity.
He seems to have been scared off., so . . .
I’ve not read it in years, but it is compulsively readable, due to its fucked up nature – it’s a beautifully written, brilliantly told novel where a pedophile tells us of his love affair with his teenage stepdaughter. You loathe Humbert Humbert’s tyrannical, unforgivable deed at the same time that you empathize with his humanity. I need to buy the annotated edition after graduation.
Lolita is the only book that ever made me cry. I read it in high school. It’s an obsessive love story, the main character is not normal (obviously) but he can’t help himself and he can’t change. Rather tragic to me.
I’ve read Pale Fire too.
My father’s favorite author is Nabokov, he’s read like, EVERYTHING he can get his hands on by him.
All I remember about Ada is that it was a paperback on the bookshelves in our house, and it had a pretty explicit cover. I’ll have to pick it up one of these days.
I haven’t found Nabokov’s writing to be impenetrable. I think that Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake has more of that reputation.
Well, the parts in French.
Well yeah, but aren’t there editions that come with translations somewhere?…..
Yeah, mine’s annotated, but I have to flip to the back of the book to find the translation. Only a minor annoyance in a wonderful reading experience.
Yeah it’s cool. I’ve always had a thing for 19th century novels and lots of them have footnotes to explain things that make no sense in this day and age to an American person, and back then French was a language many English speakers knew and used so they often used French words and phrases in these books too. Not to mention all the philosophical references…
Footnotes and end notes can be somewhat annoying but if you read a book more than once, then it’s a smoother experience after that.
Finnegan’s Wake I’ve never attempted, that’s hardcore.
i love footnotes! did anyone read jonathan strange & mr norell??
I haven’t read that, Ruby, do you recommend?
i love that book, but it’s kind of a pastiche of 19th century novels and full of extraneous and detailed footnotes. also it’s sort of harry potter for grownups so if that doesn’t sound good, don’t go there lol. i’m sure it was being adapted for a film but seems to be stuck in development hell now :\
anyway, sorry for the digression about footnotes! got a lil overexcited :P
Sounds like a good thing to drive me nuts and paralyze me from putting it down, playing into the exasperating and exhilarating “don’t give up till you drop” tendency that I have…. I’ll probably die reading it…
it’s just one thing i love about moby dick, so much extraneous detail xD more about 19th century whaling than anyone could possibly need to know!!
i love moby dick and i’ll never understand why people complain about the whaling parts. they’re written with humor and it’s fun to read..
it’s wonderful! regret to say i’ve never made it through finnegan’s wake but i’ll try again one of these days
I enjoyed the book. I like the way it first deconstructs the sort of knee-jerk reaction against pedophilia with the rhetoric that the hard line of 18 is a modern invention, then it shows you why pedophilia is really immoral. It’s not immoral for the reasons society says it is, it’s immoral because since the child has no control or ability to truly understand the situation enough to control it, the child will necessarily become a slave.
This thread was a bit bewildering. I’ve never seen the word `elusive’ used so many times to describe prose. I started to wonder if some people meant `allusive’ instead. Either way, if anyone wants prose that will neither elude you nor allude to anything, your local airport should have some novels for you.
Lolita, Pale Fire, Bend Sinister, Transparent Things, those are my favourite Nabokov novels.
Either way, if anyone wants prose that will neither elude you nor allude to anything, your local airport should have some novels for you.
Lolita is not difficult at all. His prose is easy, though dorky sometimes. From Bend Sinister: “Her concavity fit my convexity exactly.” I don’t find anything too disturbing or disgusting. I didn’t cry but maybe I came closer than ever because I understand the obsession and love: he describes Lolita’s clothing in paragraphs! Wish I hadn’t seen the film though and known about Quilty.
Ulysses is the hardest thing I’ve read. The endless references to Irish politics and history, literature. Get an annotated version, mine’s got about 200 pages of endnotes. Read Joyce and you’ll become a friggin’ expert on Charles Stewart Parnell. Gravity’s Rainbow might be more complex because of the need for it when dealing with paranoia and Them, but it’s a fuckin’ roller coaster ride and fun to unravel.
Polaris included Against The Day in his favorite books list, but I had a hard time getting into it because it wasn’t as mindfucking as GR. I got lazy because I wasn’t being bombarded with enigmas.