“Reading with the spine” or Reading Nabokov with Huck Finn
Nabokov studies is now a sufficiently mature scholarly field that it can withstand much more critically informed disagreement than it has borne so far. I would like to propose and examine certain forms of unforced communal critical practice, forms that avoid ad hominem attacks yet presume neither the common ground of some ideal starting point nor the desirability of an agreement or even consensus. Since I like having and keeping friends, to tease out the potential advantages and pitfalls of such critical practices, I'll start with unflattering descriptions of my own work: “Kuzmanovich's reading could be used in this respect as a test case of Nabokov's 'creating wit in others'-like Falstaff-in an area of proxemics and unvoiced intuition. Kuzmanovich's (work) shows that this critic is subliminally aware of their importance, although that awareness never rises to the surface of critical discussion in explicit theoretical formulation.”; I do not intend to use my time to answer this or any other critic of my work. I do intend, however, to start from the proposition that Nabokov's creating wit in others may have been both a boon for and a brake on Nabokov studies. I then wish to treat a set of critical statements, culled from Nabokov and others, as nodes in a network of more heterogeneous possibilities for reading Nabokov.
Published : 2008-03-20