light gazing, ışığa bakmak

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

disparates (2)

a propósito de uns disparates anteriores, ou a despropósito.

troca de correspondência entre Flaubert e Turgenev sobre Guerra e Paz, o livro que o primeiro tinha recebido para ler com recomendações de Turgenev. [e não tinha Flaubert em tag, pecado]

Croisset, January 21, 1880

... Thank you for getting me to read Tolstoy's novel. It's first-rate. What a painter, and what a psychologist! The first two volumes are sublime; but the third falls-off badly. He repeats himself and philosophizes: you see the man, the author, the Russian, whereas hitherto there had been only Nature and Mankind. Sometimes he seems Shakespearean. I cried aloud with admiration as I read - and it's a long novel. Tell me something about the author. Is it his first book? In any case, he has balls! Yes! it's very strong! very strong!...

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e a resposta de Turgenev:

"Mon bon vieux,
You cannot imagine the pleasure I was given by your letter and by what you say about Tolstoy's novel. Your approval confirms my view of him. Yes, he is very strong, and yet you have put your finger on the spot. He has also conceived a philosophical system at once mystical, childish and arrogant: this has doubly spoiled his second novel (Anna Karenina), which he wrote after War and Peace, and which also contains some first-class things."

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Pamuk on Tolstoy:
"In the interview, Charlie Rose asked Pamuk what he thought was the greatest novel of all time, and Pamuk answered “Anna Karenina” without any hesitation. This interested me, since people usually pick War and Peace for the greatest novel of all time if they are into Tolstoy. To explain his love of Tolstoy, Pamuk retold an anecdote about Nabokov, who once explained Tolstoy’s writing style by simply opening a window in a dark classroom. His point: Tolstoy has a way of lighting up the entire room for you in every scene."

and Nabokov on Tolstoy:
I hate tampering with the precious lives of great writers and I hate Tom-peeping over the fence of those lives — I hate the vulgarity of "human interest," I hate the rustle of skirts and giggles in the corridors of time — and no biographer will ever catch a glimpse of my private life; but this I must say. Dostoevski's gloating pity for people — pity for the humble and the humiliated — this pity was purely emotional and his special lurid brand of the Christian faith by no means prevented him from leading a life extremely removed from his teachings. On the other hand, Leo Tolstoy like his representative Lyovin was organically unable to allow his conscience to strike a bargain with his animal nature — and he suffered cruelly whenever this animal nature temporarily triumphed over his better self.
The queer thing about it is that actually Tolstoy was rather careless when dealing with the objective idea of time. In War and Peace attentive readers have found children who grow too fast or not fast enough, just as in Gogol's Dead Souls, despite Gogol's care in clothing his characters, we find that Chichikov wore a bearskin overcoat in midsummer. In Anna Karenin, as we shall see, there are terrific skiddings on the frozen road of time. But such slips on Tolstoy's part have nothing to do with the impression of time he conveys, the idea of time which corresponds so exactly with the reader's sense of time. There are other great writers who were quite consciously fascinated by the idea of time and quite consciously tried to render its movement; this Proust does when his hero in the novel In Search of Lost Time arrives at a final party where he sees people he used to know now for some reason wearing gray wigs, and then realizes that the gray wigs are organic gray hairs, that they have grown old while he had been strolling through his memories; or notice how James Joyce regulates the time element in Ulysses by the slow gradual passing of a crumpled bit of paper down the river from bridge to bridge down the Liffy to Dublin Bay to the eternal sea. Yet these writers who actually dealt in time values did not do what Tolstoy quite casually, quite unconsciously, does: they move either slower or faster than the reader's grandfather clock; it is the time by Proust or the time by Joyce, not the common average time, a kind of standard time which Tolstoy somehow manages to

No wonder, then, that elderly Russians at their evening tea talk of Tolstoy's characters as of people who really exist, people to whom their friends may be likened, people they see as distinctly as if they had danced with Kitty and Anna or Natasha at that ball or dined with Oblonski at his favorite restaurant," as we shall soon be dining with him. Readers call Tolstoy a giant not because other writers are dwarfs but because he remains always of exactly our own stature,t exactly keeping pace with us instead of passing by in the distance, as other authors do.

And in this connection it is curious to note that although Tolstoy, who was constantly aware of his own personality, constantly intruding upon the lives of his characters, constantly addressing the reader — it is curious to note that nevertheless in those great chapters that are his masterpieces the author is invisible so that he attains that dispassionate ideal of authors which Flaubert so violently demanded of a writer: to be invisible, and to be everywhere as God in His universe is. We have thus the feeling now and then that Tolstoy's novel writes its own self, is produced by its matter, by its subject, not by a definite person moving a pen from left to right, and then coming back and erasing a word, and pondering, and scratching his chin through his beard.

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