Oz Fritz in the recording studio. Like Nabokov, Oz wants you to pay attention. (Photo by John Tabor).
This week: Commentary to Line 579 to commentary for Lines 734-735 (pages 153-170 in my old paperback, but your mileage may vary).
Commentary to Line 596: "As many people of little culture, Gradus was a voracious reader of newspapers, pamphlets, chance leaflets and the multilingual literature that comes with nose drops and digestive tablets..." Perhaps the modern Gradus would be those who consume social network posts to the exclusion of reading books.
Here is one of my favorite passages: "How much happier the wide-awake indolents, the monarchs among men, the rich monstrous brains deriving intense enjoyment and rapturous pangs from the balustrade of a terrace at nightfall, from the lights and the lake below, from the distant mountain shapes melting into the dark apricot of the afterglow, from the black conifers outlined against the pale ink of the zenith, and from the garnet and green flounces of the water along the silent, sad, forbidden shoreline."
Compare Nabokov talking about the virtue of being "wide-awake" with Robert Anton Wilson's remarks in his essay "How to Read/How to Think" in Coincidance. See also Oz Fritz's remarks about paying attention in his classic "The Art of Listening" blog post, which was part of a series.
I liked Oz Fritz's comment in the last installment: "Deleuze says that writers of what he terms "minority literature" write for a "people to come." Their audience doesn't exist when they write, their literature has to find readers who will grasp it. This seems similar to Nietzsche's philosophy. Joyce wrote for readers of the future. You have to become smarter and broaden your awareness to comprehend his later works. Nabokov teaches how to be such a reader. He creates a bridge for the current reader to become one of those "people to come" who will understand and appreciate Joyce and perhaps realize Nietzsche's or Crowley's philosophy. Twice already, through Kinbote, Nabokov explicitly expresses an intention to teach, putting the word "teach" in a sentence by itself or with one other word to emphasize this intention."
Compare with the famous anecdote about Beethoven: "Legend has it that when the Italian violinist Felix Radicati complained that Beethoven’s Opus 59 Quartets were 'not music', the composer responded: 'Oh, they are not for you, but for a later age'.” (Source).
And I do think that whether he was in the classroom or in the pages of a novel, Nabokov was teaching us to read carefully, and to re-read.