Sunday, September 03, 2006

Zadistically So: Christina Colquhoun recalls a lecture at the Royal Society of Literature by a palely fired Nabokovian

All these various waves about how to pronounce Nabokov remind me of a lecture I went to last year held by the Royal Society of Literature in London. I should have written to the List at the time [NABOKOV-L], but I thought the lecture was so god-awful that I hesitated in spitting too much unnecessary rancour out into cyberspace. The, in my opinion, truly overrated Zadie Smith had decided to talk about Pnin. Her preamble opened with: 'There are many ways of pronouncing Nabokov...' Hmm. Funny. I thought there was only one. 'And I have chosen...' She listed some 'alternatives' and proceeded rather haughtily to inform the audience that she had chosen 'Naba-cough'. Ms Smith then read out from a prepared bunch of papers for forty minutes in a mind-numbing monotone. By her own admission Ms Smith is not a Russian speaker nor does she have knowledge of any foreign language, which showed up as a substantial impediment to her 'approach' to Nabokov (this may seem obvious, but I hadn't realised quite how much it really means).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done.

I, too, cannot understand the furore over Zadie Smith.

But then, my idea of good reading is PALE FIRE or even LOLITA.

But not the mumbling, self-revelatory , trendy prose of Ms. Smith.

Couldn't we have something at least partially shorn of pop culture and slightly distanced from the writer's own libido?



7:18 AM  

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