Thursday, September 10, 2009

It turns out that N. did have a few other writers whom he did unreservedly enjoy and admire: Jane Austen(Mansfield Park to be specific), Charles Dickens(Bleak House), Robert Louis Stevenson(Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) and Franz Kafka(The Metamorphisis). The last two clearly fit into two of his favorite things--dappleganer and transformation such as butterflies undergo.

N. also held that a "good reader" needed four things: memory, imagination, some artistic sense, and a dictionary(for readers of N. this last is definitely needed). Similarly the Great Writer, to N., needs to be three things in order to qualifiy as such:
1. Teacher
2. Storyteller
3. Enchanter

I liked that we ended up talking a bit about chapter 5 in Speak Memory, which I liked very much. Its really something how he makes Madmoiselle(a figure so dull in real life that her real name isn't even recalled by N.)such an indelible character--fat, terribly emotional, unable to speak Russian. My favorite episode in chapter 5(and possibly the whole book, though there is a close second to be discussed later)is part 3, where N. and his little brother Sergey sneak away as dusk is approaching on a winter night with Turka the Great Dane in search of adventure, only to be brought back by Dmitri the gardener, to Mademoiselle frantically shouting from the porch. It reminds me of a story my grandpa Ort would tell me about going out with his brother Roger when they were about five and four to go bear hunting with their pop-guns in McCalister Montana not long after Christmas. Everything ends up being connected whether it thinks it is or not.

Today the commonplace, since sloth prevents me from typing out the episode described above, will be a short pithy phrase right from the beginning of the book: "Imagination, the supreme delight of the immortal and the immature,..." this comes in the midst of a discussion on the suppression of imagination and N.'s disdain for such a thing. But its just so potent a phrase even on its own!

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