Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nabokov on The Writing Reader vs. The Reading Writer (sort of)

Again, Vladimir Nabokov expresses my sentiments better than I ever could (though it's ironic I'm finding so much enjoyment in the articulation of my thoughts in his words, as just after the passage below, Nabokov writes, "minor readers like to recognize their own ideas in a pleasing disguise" - to which I must reply, in the words of Marianne Moore, "I’ve always felt that if a thing has been said in the very best way, how can you say it better?"):

"Time and space, the colors of the seasons, the movements of muscles and minds, all these are for writers of genius (as far as we can guess and I trust we guess right) not traditional notions which may be borrowed from the circulating library of public truths but a series of unique surprises which master artists have learned to express in their own unique way. To minor authors is left the ornamentation of the commonplace: these do not bother about any reinventing of the world; they merely try to squeeze the best they can out of a given order of things, out of traditional patterns of fiction."

I'd tried to write something to this effect last month, and naturally, Nabokov's facility of thought and expression eclipses my fumbling, groping, sometimes fatuous ramblings. Nabokov is Nabokov for a reason.

Also, this from Elizabeth Bishop, to make us all feel more foolish:
“I do not understand the nature of the satisfaction a completely accurate description or imitation of anything at all can give, but apparently in order to produce it the description or imitation must be brief, or compact, and have at least the effect of being spontaneous.”