What [Vladimir] Nabokov is actually doing in Lolita is deliberately drawing on all manner of anti-Semitic propaganda, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Nazi caricatures of the Jewish ‘type,’ to create in Humbert Humbert the anti-Semitic cliché of legend, rather as, say, Chaucer draws on medieval misogynist writings to create in the figure of the Wife of Bath the archetypal shrew of his male audience’s nightmares.
Is Humbert Humbert Jewish? by Mark Ford
Faced with the reality of our shrunken New York-area apartment, as well as a certain someone’s affinity for Bravo TV, we were just discovering an eternal truth: living with someone means mastering the art of evasion. No matter how much you enjoy another person’s company, there are times when one would rather be alone. This is doubly true for avid readers, and perhaps triply true for ones (like me) who demand silence when they read. It was impossible – despite more-than-fair compromises on both our parts – for me to monopolize the apartment’s noise level. I was simply unable to reliably read each of my subscriptions as I had initially intended. I needed isolation. Like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, I found that, ‘It is necessary that every man have at least somewhere to go. For there are times when one absolutely must go at least somewhere!’ (Those times often coincide with Real Housewives round-table recaps, by the way.)
W. H. Auden
A partial list of the contributors in the first issue of the New York Review of Books
Dreams are the Sea-Monkeys of consciousness; in the back pages of sleep they promise us teeming submarine palaces but leave us, on waking, with a hermetic residue of freeze-dried dust. At the breakfast table in my house, an inflexible law compels all recountings of dreams to be compressed into a sentence or, better still, half a sentence, like the paraphrasing of epic films listed in TV Guide: ‘Rogue samurai saves peasant village.’
Michael Chabon’s stellar essay on Finnegans Wake is worth a read or five.
When you see the loser-figure in a novel, what you are seeing is a complicated bargain that goes something like this: yes, it is kind of immature and boorish to be thinking about sex all the time and ogling and objectifying women, but this is what we men sometimes do and we have to write about it. We fervently promise, however, to avoid the mistake of the late Updike novels: we will always, always, call our characters out when they’re being self-absorbed jerks and louts. We will make them comically pathetic, and punish them for their infractions a priori by making them undesirable to women, thus anticipating what we imagine will be your judgments, female reader. Then you and I, female reader, can share a laugh at the characters’ expense, and this will bring us closer together and forestall the dreaded possibility of your leaving me.