Comprehensible art

Perhaps my favourite thing about Vladimir Nabokov is how he never sacrifices clarity for the impression of brilliance. So many great modern authors seem to take delight in baffling their readers, whether with torturous sentences, incomprehensible plots, or surrealism. James Joyce is especially guilty, but hardly alone, in his use of such approaches. While such writing can push the boundaries of language, it is likely to try one’s patience as well. As such, it is especially pleasant to see genius expressed in a straightforward form: excellence in a fairly traditional format.

It’s rather like the different kinds of modern art. There may be some profound idea in the mind of the artist who has splattered a crumpled canvas with Burger King condiments, but I have a lot more respect for the one who made the elegant sculpture in wood or marble or bronze.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

5 thoughts on “Comprehensible art”

  1. Ada or Ardor, arguably both Nabokov’s most difficult book and his magnum opus, perhaps approaches Dubliners or maybe Ulysses in terms of readability, but it’s no Finnegan’s Wake. I always found Nabokov a joy to read.

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