Wednesday, January 21, 2015

First and Foremost is the Final Frontier

In his book of carefully wrought reflections, "Bright Book of Life: American Novelists and Storytellers from Hemingway to Mailer," the esteemed literary critic, Alfred Kazin, makes poignant observations about many acclaimed writers who had plied their talents and applied their arts in middlish 20th-century America. The following passage is but one of many sparkling gems an interested reader can find unearthed there:

"Certainly Nabokov's ideas about the simultaneity of all events in time are not original. Baudelaire said it all: 'Talent is nothing more nor less than childhood rediscovered at will -- a childhood now equipped for self-expression, with manhood's capacities and a power of analysis which enables it to order the mass of raw material which it has involuntarily accumulated.' Or as the painter Claes Oldenburg recently put it: 'Everything I do is completely original. I made it up when I was a little kid.'

"Self-sufficiency, for our time a major form of freedom, is Nabokov's real genius. And freedom as it expresses itself in and through the creative act is its object. There is finally no 'truth,' just this sense of freedom. Love is the pleasure of freedom. Even in lovemaking, genius is the only actor."

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