A question for the group: is Nabokov Russian?
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So, in the scope of the group, and just to spark some conversation, was Nabokov the Author a)Russian, b)American, c)English, or d) a well-blended synchretic pan-European hybrid that just happened to write his most innovative work in English?
Write what you know, I guess.
As for the Swiss, I like their cheese and the knives of their armed forces. But I am not Swiss.
Nabokov described himself as a classical liberal, in the tradition of his father. Throughout his life he was profoundly opposed to all forms of socialism and fascism. In a poem he wrote in 1917, he described the Bolshevik revolutionaries as "grey rag-tag people." Later, during his American period, he expressed contempt for student activism, and all collective movements. In both letters and interviews, he shows a profound contempt for the left-wing protest movements of the 1960s, describing the protestors as "conformists" and "goofy hoodlums."
"An American writer means, in the present case, a writer who has been an American citizen for a quarter of a century. It means, moreover, that all my works first appear in America. It also means that America is the only country where I feel mentally and emotionally at home."
He became an American citizen out of necessity. Still, you won't find a bigger admirer of Nabokov than me and if someone wants to consider him an American author, that is fine. He did move to Switzerland when he had the money to do so, and on his grave it says: ecrivain. I believe America provided a safe haven for this talented man to work and in that sense it deserves credit. Lolita is certainly a wonderful driving tour of the States and the Haze women are acute representations of mid-century New England affectation. Perhaps if he stayed in America he wouldn't have died from a series of bungled hospital visits...
On a presonal note, I just have Speak Memory. It is quite an oeuvre, to say the least. I think I may reread Ada soon. Maybe this spring. I read Pale Fire last fall. Boy, once Kinbote's narrative takes over...utterly fantastic.
* Here is a little bit of obsessiveness by master obsessor Rosenbaum concerning the actual merits of Shade's poem:
Perhaps my palate isn't fine enough for poetry...
His books are an amalgam of literary traditions and culture of all these countries where he lived, so I would agree with some of you and go with "a pan-European hybrid" who was "an expert in American culture". As an individual, attaching himself to one particular nationality was entirely up to him and whatever he felt like at this or that period of his life. But yes, many Russians get angry with rage whenever another country tries to appropriate him.
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