Nabokov on Chowderheads

Allow me, again, to indulge my weakness for Vladimir Nabokov.  In this passage, he perfectly describes that type of girl.  You know the one:

Books mean nothing to a woman of her kind; her own life seems to her to contain the thrills of a hundred novels.  Had she been condemned to spend a whole day shut up in a library, she would have been found dead about noon.  I am quite sure that Sebastian [a novelist] never alluded to his work in her presence: it would have been like discussing sundials with a bat.  So let us leave that bat to quiver and wheel in the deepening dusk: the clumsy mimic of a swallow.

How much do I love that last sentence! But now, back to the books.

5 thoughts on “Nabokov on Chowderheads

  1. suomichris April 17, 2008 / 2:52 pm

    I also love the last bit, especially thinking of all of things that undergrads are clumsy mimics of, such as:

    actual human beings;
    thinking, breathing individuals;
    and people who actually give a shit.

  2. st_albert April 17, 2008 / 6:25 pm

    Perhaps a bit harsh. You too, SuomiChris, though I “definately” appreciate the sentiment.

    The ones I’ve known, had they been locked up in a library, would have _pretended_ to like it, knowing that they _should_ like it, until they in fact _believed_ that they _did_ like it.

    And that’s a whole other dimension that Nabakov seems to have missed (or purposely ignored) here. C. S. Lewis did not.

    Just my $0.02, worth less now than when I began to type 😦


  3. TimT April 17, 2008 / 8:19 pm

    Ha! Presumably Lenny Lower was thinking along similar lines when he wrote –

    “I talked with her in a kind, fatherly way for a while, but it was obviously a strain for her to talk without dancing, and she gave a little sigh of relief when Stanley entered the room with a heavy masterful tread.”

  4. suomichris April 17, 2008 / 11:32 pm

    Albert: Did you just say that C.S. Lewis was a more deeply nuanced writer than Nabakov? I’m not really into ‘litrrechurr’, but I am very sure that that is complete and total nonsense.

  5. st_albert April 18, 2008 / 5:14 pm

    @SuomiChris: No, I did not mean that. What I was trying to say was that Lewis covered the case where the (deluded) individual in question (locked in a library for a day) would not die, but would adapt by convincing (her)self that she enjoyed the library.

    On reflection, the “complete and total nonsense” was probably mine. 🙂

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