Saturday, November 14, 2009

Speak, Nabokov

From an excerpt of Ross Benjamin's forthcoming translation of Michael Maar's Speak, Nabokov (Verso), just published by n+1:

Laura is a far cry from the dark metaphysical cosmos into which Nabokov's great novels draw us. The sad truth is: dying is not fun. And to modify another of the master's maxims: Detail is almost always welcome. All the expansive elaborations on old age in Laura—involving flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, foot odor and prostate tumors—strike a downright grim, masochistic note. Nabokov, who once described his life as "fresh bread with country butter and Alpine honey," with Laura brings to mind Tolstoy's comparison of life to a tartine de merde, which one is obliged to eat slowly.

Ross relays, "The article includes a sneak peek at Nabokov's last, unfinished manuscript, The Original of Laura, on the eve of its controversial posthumous publication."

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