Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review: Speak, Nabokov by Michael Marr

Speak, NabokovSpeak, Nabokov by Michael Maar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Speak, Nabokov, Michael Maar gives us literary criticism that digs into the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov like a cabalist seeking out the hidden truths. Because we are led to believe that Nabokov is so intelligent, absolutely everything in his fiction is detail and put there on purpose. Nothing is left to chance. And Maar, combining biography with the fiction, also combines different people in Nabokov’s life with the persons that inhabit the fiction. But what of the author is in here? To me, much of it is speculation, much like a detective’s case--a hint here, a clue there. With footnotes galore, we are painted a picture of the philosophical nature of Nabokov’s work being Gnosticism, by aegis of Schopenhauer. I am not a scholar; so much of the jargon was lost foreign to me, both in the text and footnotes. I also have no pretentions of being a metaphorical Holmes. In fact, I tend to get uncomfortable when these guys steer towards literary “outing.” Surly Nabokov must have been homosexual, because of clues left in his fiction. But if this is the way you prefer your analysis, here is a wonderfully slim volume for you. As Maar puts it, “Nabokov is fully present everywhere in his work; even the tiniest sliver contains the whole. And that is why each of these slivers scintillates with a dazzling spectrum of colors—a magic that is hard to convey in analysis.”

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