STRONG OPINIONS by Vladimir Nabokov

STRONG OPINIONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hauteur is Nabokov's middle name. Even when admitting to intellectual lacunae, he does so with the air of an aristocrat putting a peasant in his place: "I am completely ignorant of Wittgenstein's works, and the first time I heard his name must have been in the fifties. In Cambridge I played football and wrote Russian verse." This is a great way of getting through life. Such self-assurance usually charms people or cows them. Either way it insures one's supreme independence, both allows one to preen one's own feathers and snip at the plumage of rival peacocks. Strong Opinions -- a collection of Nabokov's articles, interviews, letters to editors, and fugitive book reviews -- is a marvel of malicious glee, deft phrases, and iconoclastic absurdities. His literary judgments, in particular, are deliciously haywire, as if a lunatic had been reading too much of Oscar Wilde: "Finnegan's Wake is nothing but a formless and dull mass of phony folklore, a cold pudding of a book, a persistent snore in the next room, most aggravating to the insomniac I am." Since this sort of whimsy goes on for pages and pages, Strong Opinions is less a portrait of Nabokov the master novelist, or even Nabokov the narcissist, than it is a little joke book concocted by Nabokov the funnyman, whose favorite American films, not too surprisingly, are those of the Marx Brothers. How cold intellects love Groucho and his nutty family! But can one picture Nabokov in a Marx Brothers film? Perhaps -- as a replacement for Margaret Dumont, the statuesque stuffy society grande dame.
Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1973
ISBN: 0679726098
Page count: 367pp
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1973




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