Fighting anti-Semitism in his art: The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov by Andrea Pitzer

The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov, Andrea Pitzer, Nabokov, Lolita, Pale Fire

What if Lolita is the story of global anti-Semitism as much as it is Humbert Humbert’s molestation of a twelve-year-old girl? What if Pale Fire is a love letter to the dead of the Russian Gulag? What if forty years of Nabokov’s writing carries an elegy for those who resisted the prisons and camps that devastated his world?
The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov, Andrea Pitzer, xii

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Banned Books Are the Best Books

Hermione, Harry Potter

It’s banned book week! Or rather, it was last week. . . .Time to celebrate those books that have been challenged and banned. Many classics that have been a part of the literary canon for decades have had their merit questioned. We have days to commemorate what happened. And we have Banned Books Week to remind us of what could have happened. We could have lost so much art if brave publishers and booksellers did not protest censorship. Books were banned for their language and content. Anything remotely sexual was considered pornographic. Racial slurs used to indicate a racist society were challenged. Something slightly bawdy was banned. And books that reinterpret religious texts were burned. Why? They are all merely ideas. They are all just musings, just observations, just words. But people become so caught up in their personal beliefs that they want to force them on other people. It seems strange to me that books are still being challenged and banned to this day. Continue reading →

Books for Keeping and Looking but Not Necessarily Reading

Books no longer mean the same thing they used to. In the past, books were read and reread, shared with trusted friends, and handed down to the next generation. In city life, with apartments being so small, a lot of friends have had to downsize their collections. I have tried to weed out the books I will never read: the ones I’ve owned for over a decade, the ones that remind me of former friends. One’s bookcase reflects a large part of who one is and chronicles who one was and who one would like to be. For example, all my Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite books indicate that I used to be a goth kid. And then you see who I’d like to be: the person who reads Vladimir Nabokov‘s translation of Pushkin or a study on medieval warfare. I plan on reading them one day. But there are also books I’ll never read. I keep them because of the sentimental value, the moments they represent, or their sheer beauty.

John Kobler, Capone

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Tom Wolfe Evokes Sympathy for the Unsympathetic in The Bonfire of the Vanities

Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Sherman McCoy

Tom Wolfe‘s The Bonfire of the Vanities is a contemporary naturalist novel and his protagonist, Sherman McCoy, evokes feelings reminiscent to that of Vladimir Nabokov‘s Humbert Humbert in Lolita. Wolfe allows the dialogue and plot to speak for themselves, and while concrete evidence of his voice is hard to be found, the novel’s presentation of society, justice, and media direct us to Wolfe’s opinion.

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reading versus voyeurism: movies based on books

When I was younger I used to have read-a-long books that came with records. The majority of them were based on Disney cartoons. As I grew up I started to read books based on movies. The first book I read that a movie was based on was 101 Dalmations. I was confused because the book was not identical to the movie. My dad told me the book is always better than the movie. In my naivete I did not understand the difference between books based on movies and movies based on books. Continue reading →