Dear Sister (and devoted Followers),
I wanted to write to you about some upcoming changes. Not the blog, but my own personal life. As you know I am returning to school and I anticipate that the frequency of my postings here at Nabokolia may be impacted.
This is certainly not a goodbye but I will have to focus on more mundane reading subjects. So if you do not see me posting as regularly, do not worry. I am still here, hiding in the shadows.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Claire Messud’s new novel, “The Woman Upstairs,” is narrated by Nora, a schoolteacher who is outwardly tidy, quiet, and pleasing, and inwardly enraged at her constant capitulation to the desires of others and her own stalled artistic impulses. Her voice is edgy, assured, and marked by bursts of rage: “It was supposed to say ‘Great Artist’ on my tombstone,” she tells us, “but if I died right now it would say ‘such a good teacher/daughter/friend’ instead; and what I really want to shout, and want in big letters on that grave, too, is FUCK YOU ALL. Don’t all women feel the same?” The book has been widely praised for its portrayal of an unbounded inner life, and yet it has also prompted discussion about many readers’ resistance to unlikeable characters—particularly unlikeable female characters. When Messud was recently asked by PW if she would like to be friends with Nora (the interviewer said, emphatically, that she would not), she responded sharply:
For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?”
Oh and to answer the question: No, I would not want to be friends with Humbert Humbert but that does mean that I cannot put myself in his situation/circumstances (no matter how disturbing or horrid). That is the beauty of literature. It allows us to visit places we could not or maybe would not visit in “real” life. We are able to borrow opinions, points of view that are contrary to our own.
I am also a bit disappointed with the way the media has taken this story and made Messud to be some kind of “hysterical female writer” for simply answering a question with a bit of passion and frustration. There seems to be a bit of a double standard about asking about women who write about other women. How come men aren’t asked this same question as frequently as females? How dare she write about women? And how dare she reveal her frustration or anger at the ridiculousness of such a question. Clearly she’s off her medication and should be confined to her bed. I’m thinking she needs to be in a room with yellow-wallpaper.
Pink-banded sister, adelpha lycorias
With a wingspan up to 2 inches this little butterfly is found in the rain forests from Mexico to Paraguay and into the mossy cloud forests of Brazil. They are characterized by the pink bands on the dorsal side of their forewings and their slow, graceful flight.
Adelpha favours a meal of rotting fruit, but also imbibes moisture and minerals from mud on the forest floor. Females lay their eggs, not in a cluster, but singly on the leaf.
These little caterpillars go through their larval phase never knowing if their neighbour might also be a sibling. You can see how things might get foggy in the cloud forest.
Darling Van, do you mean to tell me lights don’t shine from your tits? I always knew you were primitive somehow.
As for the font, I like it. Those serifs appear thoughtful and mysterious.
There are a few things that come to mind when I see this cover:
- THAT is NOT a nymphet. Not even close to the right age. Apparently Lolita is now a 20? something woman.
- I’m wondering about the fact that there are blinds in the shower. I’m pretty sure that most showers don’t have blinds, but then again I’m not an expert in interior decorating/home building.
- What font is that?
- Why are lights shining from her tits? I mean I’m all for evolution but what purpose do lights (aside from the obvious juvenile puns ‘head-lights’) serve? *shrugs*
Nabokolia is proud to present the third book in our series of ‘Bad Nabokov Book Covers’.
Are you a voyeur? Put away your binoculars and pick up this book. Are you uncomfortable? Are we making the people around you uncomfortable? We are…good. Do you like literature? Do you like reading? Do you want to give the impression that you’re a dirty old man? It doesn’t matter that you might be a female or maybe a student of serious literature, we wanted to lump all of you together into one dirty-minded demographic. We hope you enjoy your porn. What? Why are you angry with us? We heard about this book and we found this photo in an old playboy and we thought, this works. What would you have us do as publishers? I mean really.
The following is a test of the Emergency Broadcast Lolita.
The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with .tumblr and other authorities (twitter, Facebook, etc.) have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. There has not been much substantive discussion/criticism regarding the works of Vladimir Nabokov as of late. As difficult as it is to believe, we exist outside of the vacuum that is tumblr. Sister and I both have other obligations, both in books and in life.
Do not worry. We are currently engaged in our re-reading The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. More discussion/criticism will follow.
If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed to turn to page 1 and continue turning. This concludes the Emergency Broadcast Lolita.
Yellow Wattlebird - Meliphagidae - Anthochaera - A. paradoxa
Also known as a “Long” or “Tasmanian” the Yellow Wattlebird is a honey-eater, named for the wattles on the corners of their mouths. Dark coloured forest birds with a white face and a black streaked crown.
The Yellow Honeyeater feeds mainly on the nectar of eucalyptus and banksias. It will also eat fruit and insects. It forages at all levels of the canopy, from the top of trees to near ground level. Will visit gardens and orchards to feed on introduced fruits and flowers, mainly eating overripe or fallen fruits.
The call of this species is a discordant mixture of gargling and coughing noises, audible over long distances. Pairs may call in duets. When calling, the wattlebird throws its head back so far that the feathers of its crown may touch those of its back, and then it is suddenly jerked forward, releasing the call.
I like to imagine this bird head-banging with its partner. I like to imagine lots of silly things. I love the way this bird looks, as if two drops of dried honey have permanently attached themselves to the birds face.
Quite right, Van, and more importantly, quite clever. Though I’m still rather alive, so the fiction may not be as fatal as all that.
And I confess…
I was actually enthralled by the pages and pages defining and illustrating literary involution.
I think you were right the first time Ada. There is a story to this introduction. It is as follows:
A critic shows up. He has access to big words. He says things we all sort of know only he says them using those big words. The reader becomes self-aware. The reader is killed by an idea. The idea is that the critic knows more than the reader. All of this is a fiction.
p.s. - I don’t think any of the above makes actual sense. But I said it in a clever way. I think Nabokov would appreciate this. Well, appreciate that this post is a kind of satiric joke. That he’d appreciate.
This never ending
story introduction is boring and riveting at the same time.
You don’t want to skim over the ten pages devoted to defining literary involution because you might miss the anecdote featuring Nabokov on a Cornell staff room couch with a little kid, watching cartoons and laughing his guts out.