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Posted: 08 August 2017 01:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Logophile - 07 August 2017 11:30 PM


Michelangelo replied:  “It has nothing to do with my direction; the actor forgot to shut the door.”

He must have been the anti-Kubrick.

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Posted: 08 August 2017 03:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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languagehat - 04 August 2017 05:23 AM

“Curdled” meaning what? Do you no longer appreciate the value of the art? If that is what I understand then what is your view on the plethora of meaningful classics that are considered sexist today?

Good lord, talk about a knee-jerk reaction.  You seem to think you’re putting down a lily-livered, latte-sipping progressive who faints at the mere mention of anything non-PC (and perhaps wants Michelangelo’s David to wear shorts).  I’ve gotten into many an argument with progressives who want to ban non-PC art, or at least rant about how awful it is and how no decent person would expose themselves to it.  I’ve defended Pound and Hemingway and William Burroughs and quoted Auden’s great elegy

In short, I am not the sensitive plant you take me for.  I simply found the blatant misogyny throughout Lucky Jim repulsive, and the humor (much of which is based on said misogyny) not humorous enough to make up for it.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to pry your copy out of your resisting hands.  You are free to enjoy whatever you like.

So how come you are so intolerant of any criticism of religion? Why is that excepted?

I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.

and all that.

I remember enjoying a campus novel by Nabokov called Pnin based on his time lecturing in America. Judging by the tenor of many posts in this thread, I might not like it now.

Regarding how our opinions may be coloured by age and later discoveries, take the logician and semanticist Gottlob Frege -

1924 diary
Frege’s published philosophical writings were of a very technical nature and divorced from practical issues, so much so that Frege scholar Dummett expresses his “shock to discover, while reading Frege’s diary, that his hero was an anti-Semite.”

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Posted: 08 August 2017 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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Logophile - 07 August 2017 11:30 PM

I can’t imagine that you’re going to counter Nabokov’s opinion about his own book.

Isaac Asimov used to tell a story, I’m not sure whether it was meant to be on himself or on the professor in the story.  It involved Asimov sitting in on an English class that was discussing one of his books.  The professor went on and on about what the story meant.  Asimov introduced himself to the professor after the class and said that he never meant any of those things.  The professor responded, “Just because you wrote it what makes you think you have any idea what it’s about?”

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Posted: 08 August 2017 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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Logophile - 07 August 2017 11:30 PM

The sense that I mean is that it is a love story. [...] You said that Nabokov did not provide any helpful analysis. I do not know what specific analysis you’re referring to, but he did discuss Lolita in detail. He discussed the outline of his novel and its various construable permutations. See the link below where Nabokov affirms that his novel is not about sex, but about love.

Listen to the entire exchange, not just the fact that Nabokov uses the word love:

INTERLOCUTOR: And because it is destructive, and because it is ... and because the love is destructive or cruel or many other things, it is no less love, and in fact that why it is love. Love is all these things, very often.
NABOKOV: It is because they are thinking in clichés.

He didn’t say it was a “love story.” He said it was about love. And he’s using a broader definition of love than the “clichéd” (his word) one that most people think of when they hear the term. There’s a difference. When you say “love story,” you’re conjuring up a specific genre in which romantic attachment is ennobled. That is not Lolita. But if you say that Lolita is about a perverse, cruel, and destructive love, then yes, it is about love.

Which brings me to another point. Authors don’t create the definitive interpretation of their own work. No one can do that—and there is no single, correct way to look at a text. A work of literature is an exchange between the text, which contains the mediated thoughts of the writer, and the reader. And it’s one that is reinterpreted each time it is read. Often writers don’t have a clue what prompts them to write something—the process is something of a black box. They speak of the muse taking over, or characters writing themselves, or a voice inside them telling them what to write.

Michelangelo replied:  “It has nothing to do with my direction; the actor forgot to shut the door.”

Precisely. The text (or film in this case) exists on its own, independent of what the author intended, which is irrelevant (and can never be determined with confidence, anyway).

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Posted: 08 August 2017 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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So how come you are so intolerant of any criticism of religion? Why is that excepted?

Huh?  I’m not intolerant of any criticism of religion; I’m irreligious myself, and have often had criticisms to make about specific features of specific religions.  What I am intolerant of is the kind of smug atheist who thinks all religions are nothing but cynical schemes to extract money from suckers and all religious people are fools; when I encounter anything that smacks of that (usually replete with quotes from Dennett, Dawkins, Hitchens, et hoc genus omne) I express my distaste freely.

I remember enjoying a campus novel by Nabokov called Pnin based on his time lecturing in America. Judging by the tenor of many posts in this thread, I might not like it now.

Oh, I suspect you’d still like it, probably even more than you did the first time (since good books get better on rereading); it’s a wonderful (and short) novel, with none of the perversity that marks Lolita and later novels.

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Posted: 08 August 2017 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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it is a love story.

here’s another love story ( also tragic, but thankfully brief)

Patient (to psychiatrist):  Doctor, I’m in love with my horse.

Psychiatrist: What sort of a horse? Is it male or female?

Patient: Female, of course. D’you take me for a beastly pervert?

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Posted: 08 August 2017 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Isaac Asimov used to tell a story, I’m not sure whether it was meant to be on himself or on the professor in the story.  It involved Asimov sitting in on an English class that was discussing one of his books.  The professor went on and on about what the story meant.  Asimov introduced himself to the professor after the class and said that he never meant any of those things.  The professor responded, “Just because you wrote it what makes you think you have any idea what it’s about?”

It’s said that whenever anyone - actor, director, literary scholar or journalist - asked Harold Pinter what any line or event in one of his plays ‘meant’, he would reply along the lines of “How would I know? I only wrote it”.

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Posted: 08 August 2017 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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He didn’t say it was a “love story.” He said it was about love. And he’s using a broader definition of love than the “clichéd” (his word) one that most people think of when they hear the term. There’s a difference. When you say “love story,” you’re conjuring up a specific genre in which romantic attachment is ennobled. That is not Lolita. But if you say that Lolita is about a perverse, cruel, and destructive love, then yes, it is about love.

I think you’re getting into semantics. If you’re going to argue that it’s about love, but not a love story, then it becomes a punctilio that I’m not going to argue. A.S. Byatt, however, does summarize the novel as a love story. I’m assuming that you did listen to her hypothesis. She said: “…it turns it from pornography into a love story…into kind of a gentle tragedy.”

Authors don’t create the definitive interpretation of their own work.

Precisely; therefore, there is no definitive interpretation; therefore, I respect yours.

I’d like to digress to return to your forum’s main theme, wordorigins. According to some sources nymphet was coined by yours truly, Nabokov, but I question that claim. Did he actually coin the word or did he just redefine its meaning to provide his own description for Lolita? The word with a slightly different spelling and meaning goes back to the 17th century.

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Posted: 08 August 2017 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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yours truly, Nabokov,

You are Vladimir Nabokov?  I thought you were dead, sir!

The OED credits you with the first use of the word nymphet to mean an actual young girl and not just as a diminutive of the mythical creature.  I hope we’re not going to get into a haggle over what constitutes “coining”.

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Posted: 09 August 2017 04:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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Logophile - 08 August 2017 09:03 AM

I think you’re getting into semantics. If you’re going to argue that it’s about love, but not a love story, then it becomes a punctilio that I’m not going to argue. A.S. Byatt, however, does summarize the novel as a love story. I’m assuming that you did listen to her hypothesis. She said: “…it turns it from pornography into a love story…into kind of a gentle tragedy.”

The phrase love story has a specific meaning in twentieth-century English. It is not merely a story about love.

Again, I would like to see what Byatt says in context before passing judgment. I suspect that she’s not saying what you purport her to be saying.

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Posted: 09 August 2017 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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The phrase love story has a specific meaning in twentieth-century English. It is not merely a story about love.

Whatever that specific meaning is, a love story is predominately about love. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a love story, the ancillary plot also involves the conflict between the Montagues and the Capulets, but the integral theme is about two lovers in love. Wuthering Heights is a love story; it’s also about a man’s, (Heathcliff) revenge toward Catherine’s brother who humiliated and bullied him. These two books and many others are considered love stories.

I categorize Lolita as a love story. I also understand that Humbert Humbert is a murderer, pervert, rapist, predator, pedophile and an egomaniac; notwithstanding, the central theme is about Humbert’s obsessive and perverted love for Lolita.  That’s my analysis; yours seems to be different.

I suspect that she’s not saying what you purport her to be saying.

I’m not purporting what she’s saying; I’m quoting what she’s saying. There is no context to her declarative statement.  A.S.Byatt also thinks that Lolita is a very moral book.

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Posted: 10 August 2017 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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I suspect that she’s not saying what you purport her to be saying.

I’m not purporting what she’s saying; I’m quoting what she’s saying. There is no context to her declarative statement.  A.S.Byatt also thinks that Lolita is a very moral book.

No context?

“…it turns it from pornography into a love story…into kind of a gentle tragedy.”

You’re saying that’s all she wrote? Including the three dots?

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Posted: 10 August 2017 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 10 August 2017 08:03 AM

I suspect that she’s not saying what you purport her to be saying.

I’m not purporting what she’s saying; I’m quoting what she’s saying. There is no context to her declarative statement.  A.S.Byatt also thinks that Lolita is a very moral book.

No context?

“…it turns it from pornography into a love story…into kind of a gentle tragedy.”

You’re saying that’s all she wrote? Including the three dots?

She did not write anything; this is an interview where she and others are discussing Nabokov’s Lolita. She said other things relating to Nabokov and Lolita, but I did not take the statement that I quoted out of context. I suggest you click on to the link and listen to her statement.

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Posted: 11 August 2017 04:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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Here is the full context and entirety of what she says:

[Reads from passage] I think that passage is splendid because it give you this cold vision of Lolita as a woman, and as a woman not beautiful, and then it gives you this romantic coda of how he has continued to love her, and it turns it from ... it turns it from pornography into a love story and also into kind of a gentle tragedy

She’s not speaking of the book as a whole, she’s speaking about Nabokov’s prose and about this passage in particular. I don’t think anyone disputes that Nabokov writes it as if it were a love story, but that’s not the same thing as being a love story. The reader must take into account the perspective the story is told from. We only get Humbert’s view, and even from that perspective, the reader can see the flaws in Humbert’s account, how he is a monster, not a lover. Even in the passage that she reads, we get the contrast between reality and Humbert’s perverse view of reality. That’s why it’s a “moral” book, in Byatt’s view. If it were just a love story, it would be highly immoral.

And quoting the “it turns it from ... it turns it from” is important because the pause and repetition show that Byatt is unsure of that the words she’s using are the right ones.

[ Edited: 11 August 2017 04:06 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 11 August 2017 06:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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Well said, Dave.

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