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Nabokov on other writers

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Grappling somewhat with Nabokov’s opinions on other writers this evening. VN didn’t rate Dostoevsky, stating that he produced “wastelands of literary platitudes”. I didn’t use to like FD myself; too ‘rough’, I guess, but The Idiot has changed my mind, I think.

It descends into unrealism after the first section but, once you accept the book as a sort of dreamy narrative, it’s fabulous; wise, draining, perceptive.

On the other hand, I’m with Vlad 99% on Tolstoy: Anna Karenina and Ivan Ilyich are pretty much unparalleled in any literature, and War and Peace is patchier. The -1% comes from The Kreuzer Sonata. I love this story, VN really doesn’t.

In other news: Summerhill (near Leiston) is based on Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana school, and Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad was set in Felixstowe. I wasn’t looking for Suffolk this evening, but somehow found it.

I’ve always thought Ipswich deserves a literature. After all, Suffolk isn’t just Dunwich, Sebald and Britten.

There’s plenty of horror material.

Is there a connection or reference to anything else. Moll Flanders and Great Expectations literally pass through the town. A character in The Heart of the Matter mentions it. I don’t suppose Will Self has written anything about the town? Flaubert? I did go on a school trip to Rouen once.

Leon Paternoster

Leon Paternoster

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