Commentary Magazine


Literary Criticism

To the Editor:

The novel may be in poor shape these days, as Alfred Chester indicates in his ramble around Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire [Nov. '62], but evidently it isn’t in nearly as dire straits as novel readers and novel reviewers.

Mr. Chester paces aimlessly around the book for some time before emerging with a stance—the indignant liberal. He tells us that no “truth” has been uttered and that a social injustice comparable to race prejudice has been committed. A pederast academician who has bad breath has been ridiculed !

Before any Kinbote protective societies are formed, COMMENTARY readers should be informed that one of the truths Mr. Chester cries for and misses is that Nabokov’s relationship to his paranoiac, pederastic academician hero is infinitely more complex and affectionate than an indignant liberal would readily perceive. . . .

I can just hear the wicked Mr. Nabokov’s “sickly laughter” at the spectacle of a witless reviewer making those private revelations in a supposed review of a witty book narrated by a literary commentator who reveals his hallucinations in a supposed commentary on a poem he refused to really read.

Elenore Hochstein
New York City

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Correction

In a footnote to Norman Mailer’s column “Responses and Reactions” (December 1962, p. 506), we mistakenly identified a quotation as “paraphrased.” In fact, the quotation was not a paraphrase but an abridgement of the story “The Soul and the Evil Urge” included in the second volume of Buber’s Tales of the Hasidim.—Ed.

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