Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Vladimir Nabokov is, once again, controversial."

"...Ever since the wave of urban protest that hit the country in late 2011, Vladimir Putin and his United Russia Party seem to have decided to cut their losses with the country’s finicky Ć©lites and focus on demonizing them as Western agents for the benefit of a poorer, older, more rural voter base. So far, this strategy has brought about a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children, harsh prison terms for the punk band Pussy Riot, new tools for policing free speech on and off the Internet, and the banishment of USAid on a fresh wave of anti-American paranoia. A simultaneous emphasis on “traditional values” has resulted in the whitewashing of Stalin’s legacy and the reĆ«mergence of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church as a major political player. (Nabokov once endowed some of his own characters with a similar vision. In “Pnin” he described the loathsome Makarovs, “for whom an ideal Russia consisted of the Red Army, an anointed monarch, collective farms, anthroposophy, the Russian Church and Hydro-Electric Dam.”) Everything blunt, homespun, and orthodox is in. Everything multifaceted, foreign, avant-garde, or deviant is out. “Lolita” didn’t stand a chance."

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