Customer Reviews


3 Reviews
5 star:
 (1)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For fans of the man
An entertaining read for fans of the man, but probably not for others. Learn what it was about VN that to this day causes well-meaning fans to rave in such affected (and misspelled) tones. See below and you'll know what I mean.
Published on 27 Nov. 1998

versus
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The worst book by a great writer
...Apart, that is, from the posthumous and appallingly edited 'Lectures on Literature'. 'Strong Opinions' is a collection of Nabokov's interviews and reviews. By all accounts, Nabokov's conversational manner was both forceful and hesitant; always a perfectionist, he would correct himself in mid-sentence so often that a straight transcription of his speech would have...
Published on 27 July 2008 by lexo1941


Most Helpful First | Newest First

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The worst book by a great writer, 27 July 2008
By 
lexo1941 (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Strong Opinions (Paperback)
...Apart, that is, from the posthumous and appallingly edited 'Lectures on Literature'. 'Strong Opinions' is a collection of Nabokov's interviews and reviews. By all accounts, Nabokov's conversational manner was both forceful and hesitant; always a perfectionist, he would correct himself in mid-sentence so often that a straight transcription of his speech would have looked like a heavily corrected proof. He knew this, and so in later life he was able to insist that interviews be carried out by post, so that he could write down his replies rather than speak them into a tape recorder. The result is usually neither very revealing, in that he seldom gave anything away, nor very interesting, in that by far the best things Nabokov had to say, he said - usually obliquely and with great art - in his fiction.

Because his preferred manner of being being interviewed allowed him to say whatever he wanted without the possibility of there being anyone else in the room to seriously challenge him on it, this book gives plenty of space to his most cherished prejudices - such as his violent hatred of the work of Freud, which looks (to anyone who has read a little Freud and thought it not total nonsense) suspiciously excessive. Nabokov seems almost to froth at the mouth at the very thought of Freud, who after all saw his own work as merely an attempt to reduce hysterical illness to 'ordinary unhappiness' - it's not at all clear why Nabokov should have been so troubled at the idea of Freud's work, but in any case it's clear from reading the book that Nabokov had probably never read any Freud, which makes his splenetic outbursts (interspersed with the occasional and unconvincing protestation of indifference to the whole subject - "I do not really care anyway") all the more mysterious.

Elsewhere, Nabokov's scattered remarks on other writers can be surprisingly ignorant and unimaginative; for example, he dismisses Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake' on the grounds that he is indifferent to 'all regional literature written in dialect'(!). His contempt for writers of the stature of Faulkner, Camus and Brecht is well-known and, despite what his disciples like to believe, is not to his credit.

In general, Nabokov is always more convincing and more persuasive when he writes about Russian writers. His book on Gogol is one of his masterpieces, and the posthumous Lectures on Russian Literature, although as badly edited as the earlier series on European lit, are far more incisive and brilliant, just as the short biography of Chernyshevksy interpolated into his greatest Russian novel 'The Gift' is itself a small masterpiece of original research and argumentation. The most brilliant pieces in the book under review are his articles about translating Pushkin. The most famous one is his crushing rebuttal of Edmund Wilson's ill-informed criticisms of Nabokov's own version of 'Eugene Onegin', but the most deadly fun, and the highest degree of Schadenfreude for the reader, will be found in his lethal savaging of Walter Arndt's translation of the same poem. Arndt attempted to produce a version of the poem that reproduced in English something like the original rhyme scheme; for Nabokov, who was a convinced literalist in matters of translation, the result was a crime against both Russian and English poetry. Watching Nabokov deal with Arndt's work is like watching a hungry killer whale toying with a seal. Never can a translator's professional credibility have been so thoroughly ruined. (The mystery is that Arndt has continued to translate stuff; he is inept in many other languages than Russian.)

By far the best of Nabokov is in his fiction. There, his heart and his mind work in perfect sync, and the real heroes of his fiction are seldom the flashy narrators but the sad lives in the corner that the narrator doesn't want to think about. Outside of fiction, Nabokov could be arrogant, dimwitted, ignorant and sometimes just plain callous, as witnessed by the time he wrote a letter to Lyndon Johnson encouraging the President of the USA to go on with the bombing of South Vietnam. Nabokov completists (like me) need this book, but do not buy it if you need an introduction to his work. The best novel to read first is probably 'Pnin'. The best novels are 'Lolita' and 'The Gift'; the next best are 'The Luzhin Defense' and 'Pale Fire'; the mountain to climb is 'Ada'; the exhilarating treats are 'Real Life of Sebastian Knight', 'Glory' and the short stories.

I am a huge admirer of this great writer, but he tends to attract people who want to see no wrong in him. He liked to come across as though he saw little wrong in himself. This was not his most appealing characteristic, and this book gives it plenty of space to assert itself.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For fans of the man, 27 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
An entertaining read for fans of the man, but probably not for others. Learn what it was about VN that to this day causes well-meaning fans to rave in such affected (and misspelled) tones. See below and you'll know what I mean.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Universe's Greatest Writer Sounds Off, 15 Aug. 1997
By A Customer
Probably, or better yet most definitely, Nabokov was and is the greatest thing with flesh huddling by its bones and peeping with two ice-cube eyes this miserable little golf-ball of a planet will ever see. This is that man sounding off and checking the dunderheads and charletons who plague or lives with false sympathy and athletic stupidity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Strong Opinions (Penguin Classics)
Strong Opinions (Penguin Classics) by Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback - 3 Feb. 2011)
£12.00
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews