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Showing posts from October 3, 2021

Nabokov and coincidence

  Nabokov translated Lermontov’s A Hero of our Time in collaboration with his son. It was the father, however, who wrote the preface. In it, he remarked on the mechanisms that Lermontov uses to move the story of Pechorin forward, in a matter of speaking. “A special feature of the structure of our book is the monstrous but perfectly organic pat that eavesdroppiing plays in it. Now Eavesdropping is only one form of a more general device which can be classified under the heading of Coincidence, to which belongs, for instance, the Coincidental Meeting – another variety. It is pretty clear that when a novelist desires to combine the traditional tale of romantic adventure (amorous intrigue, jealousy, revenge, etc.) with a narrative in the first person, and has no desire to invent new techniques, he is somewhat limited in his choice of devices.” Although Nabokov was famously anti-bolshie and refused even to meet Andrei Bely because Bely was “squishy”, the notion of the device is exported stra

The knight's move

  The Knight’s Move is one of Shklovsky’s typically enigmatic books, where the essay form breaks up under some strange paratactic pressure, as though a dialogue were being attempted through the static crackle of a bad connection. Although Shklovsky is the ideological opposite of V. Rozanov, that weirdly creepy but charismatic moraliste, but he was fascinated by him in the pre-revolutionary period, when Shklovsky wrote some of his most famous texts. The fragmentary style was, if not borrowed from Rozanov, at least incited by his sense of the way Rozanov’s writing on literature where having an effect on the way people read novels, what they expected from them, in the 1900-1917 period. In an essay on Rozanov, Shklovsky called him a master of the oxymoron – that moment when the dialectic collapses. Oxymorons are a kind of tomb in which the contradiction becomes a kind of petrified juvenile delinquent style. Rozanov’s reactionary ideology was a death-driven thing, whereas Skhlovsky want t