Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Continuing regardless

Flight, Mikhail Bulgakov: A play upon the original White Flight, from St Petersburg to the Crimea and beyond into exile, in eight dreams, each ending in darkness. The irony is layered, spread thickly among religion, ideology, society and culture -- Pushkin's Queen of Spades provides one touchstone (as it has for James, Nabokov) -- but the crowning irony is the reversal of fortunes of those who opt to return (as if there's somewhere to return) in the end: Khludov, whose return is meant to expiate, is based upon Gen. Slashchov, rehabilitated by the Red Army into long service. The play was suppressed by Soviet censors and attacked in the press (cf. The Master and Margarita, §13), in part because it distinguished among the variety of Whites, in conflict with the official rendering of a uniform class enemy (one of Nabokov's complaints about received knowledge in the West about the exile community).

Fatelessness, Imre Kertész: A matter-of-fact rendition of a 14-year-old's year at concentration camp, without the worldly knowledge to see otherwise than what's taken as given, finally seeing on return that others so see it, or choose not to, either way complicit in their fate and that of others, not that there's anything wrong with that, or any other more effective choices (cf.Paxton on Vinen). (OK, so that's more garbled than usual: the young narrator takes his experience as just part of the natural order of things; which it is. An empirical observation upon empiricism follows. Also, sparking the thought: "Never forgive those to whom one has done injury, whether or not repaid", and the corollary, "Once owed forgiveness, never repay in kind.")

The Auden link above reminds me -- was Nabokov's "(picnic, lightning)" just a smack at Auden's "Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic."?


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