Saturday, September 08, 2007

Cutting remarks

The poor rubbish man must wonder what is in the recycle bin. For several weeks it has weighed a ton, full to the top with news print and old mags: the latest cuttings cull goes on unabated. So many of them were put in lidded cardboard boxes unsorted, so are of limited value. The occasional scratching about in boxes to try to dump at least half the newsprint that has accumulated over the years often brings up something that would otherwise have lain there unread or unreread and forgotten.

I do not read in blogs of peoples cuttings problems.

An undated colour supplement review by Lucy Hughes-Hallet in The Sunday Times of Marcel Proust: A Life by William C Carter and Roger Shattucks' Proust's way: A Field Guide to in search of Lost time, has a few sentences tucked away near the end which are informative:

“Shattuck writes illuminatingly about the doubleness of Proust's vision. The “I” of A la researche is both the young and the mature narrator, the two merging only in the book's last pages. Shattuck takes off from his description of this two-tiered narration to discuss the purpose of all fiction, which both mimics life and provides a template that life can seem to mimic [...].”

In the same cardboard box a wonderful, short, 2000 review by Jonathan Bate of Nabokov's Butterflies: Unpublished and Uncollected Writings. He tells us there are few who would want or need to plow through this 783 page book from beginning to end; recommends Lolita and Pnin as “two of the very few novels of the second half of the 20th. century which deserve to go on being read throughout the 21st.” ; and points out

“The key connection between Nabokov's two loves was his fascination with mimicry and disguise.”

He quotes Nabokov:

"Consider the trick of an acrobatic caterpiller (of the Lobster Moth} which in infancy looks like bird's dung, but after molting develops scrabby bymenopteroid appendages and baroque characteristics, allowing the extraordinary fellow to play two parts at once (like the actor in Oriental shows who becomes a pair of intertwining wrestlers): that of writhing larva and that of a big ant seemingly harrowing it."

“Here”, Bate writes, “he discovers in nature the same delights that he sort in art. "Both'" he [Nabokov] says, " were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception. "

Nabokov is reported to have asked if there is “a high ridge where the mountainside of scientific knowledge joins the opposite slope of imagination?”

Bate notices a misspelling which has slipped through: on the jacket he spies one of the authors is credited with being “the author of six books on butterlies”, a blunder which he thinks Nabokov would have relished.


At Monday, October 01, 2007, Blogger garciala said...

On the "high ridge" where literature joins science, you might be interested in Steven Pinker's "Toward a Consilient Study of Literature"


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