Saturday, December 30, 2017

New online reading groups for 2018

Bobby Campbell's illustration for the Illuminatus! online reading group

Since its inception several years ago, this blog has sponsored several online reading groups that went through and commented on works by Robert Anton Wilson. All of these are archived on this website, and you can read (or re-read) any of the works we've covered, read the comments, and perhaps add new ones of your own. There were groups for Illuminatus!, Email to the Universe, Cosmic Trigger, Coincidance, Quantum Psychology and Masks of the Illuminati.

For 2018, let's try something different -- discussions of books not written by Robert Anton Wilson. As previously announced, we'll have an online discussion group, led by me, for Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, that will begin in about two weeks.

And then later in the year, RAW scholar and serious Beethoven buff Eric Wagner has volunteered to lead an online discussion group of Joseph Kerman's The Beethoven Quartets. This will allow a deeper exploration of a composer who was important to RAW and is important to many of us.

With the caveat that Eric will lead his discussion any way he sees fit, the format should be the same as in the past. A reasonable number of pages will be assigned each week, the person leading the discussion will post a blog post, and then anyone else who would like can contribute in the comments. I plan to try to cover the Nabokov in 12 weeks of posts, with an additional "reminder" post the week before and perhaps an additional post at the end. Eric would like 18 weeks for his reading group.

There is a RAW connection to Pale Fire -- according to Eric, the book helped inspire RAW's use of footnotes in The Widow's Son. I don't know how many other Nabokov novels RAW read.

How about if we begin the Pale Fire discussion group on Jan. 15? That gives everyone a chance to hunt up a copy. It is still in print, available as an ebook and is widely considered one of the major novels of the last century, so it should be pretty easy to simply find a library copy.

I've been reading Nabokov for years, but I don't pretend to be an "expert." I am currently reading The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov by Andrea Pitzer, a biography which has a chapter on Pale Fire (which I haven't gotten to yet.). It's a delightful book. I also plan to get a copy of Nabokov biographer Brian Boyd's book on the work. 

This does not mean an end to discussion groups about RAW's works. Hilaritas Press will reprint many more classics soon, giving us a good excuse to tackle them.


Eric Wagner said...

Roy Moore suggested another Nabokov book, but I can’t wait to read Pale Fire. I’d love to start the Beethoven on August 13. That way we’d finish up around his birthday.

supergee said...

I am looking forward eagerly to the Pale Fire reading.

Roman Tsivkin said...

Went through a heavy Nabokov period in the 1990s, read everything in quick succession, then slowly but surely lost my taste for his prose (David Markson hit it on the head, in This is Not a Novel: Nabokov’s “precious, pinchbeck, ultimately often flat prose” and the “fundamentally uninteresting sum total of his work”). However, Pale Fire I think holds well, so I'm excited about this! Also super excited about the Beethoven reading; having played many of his quartets, including the amazing Grosse Fugue (op. 133), I am so ready for this!

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Roman, Perhaps I've avoided an overdose because I have spaced out my Nabokovs over many years. Or perhaps if you read too much of many authors, you can overdose? I like his restrained classical liberal outlook better than that of many activist political folk, but YMMV.

Reading "The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov" makes me feel more affection for him. At a time when the Nazis were taking over Germany, he married a Jewish woman, and was criticized by right wingers for being a "half Kike" himself. His sense of humor could be dangerous, as when he phoned a friend and said, "When is our Communist cell meeting?"

Joshua Hallenbeck said...

Very excited about the Pale Fire reading group.My copy awaits patiently on the shelf......