Comprehensible art

2008-01-23

in Art, Books and literature, Writing

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.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Litty January 24, 2008 at 10:56 am

Ada or Ardor has some moments of Joycean confusion.

Neal January 24, 2008 at 11:53 am

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.

. January 24, 2008 at 12:14 pm
. February 21, 2008 at 5:23 pm

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