Nabokov: Providing a Flood and Lifeboat
In Nabokov’s 1948 “Good Readers and Good Writers,” the reader has the opportunity to view the possibilities of a beautiful collision of a major reader and a major writer. This piece discusses reading and writing: skills that have become standardized and slightly devalued as education has advanced. Literacy has become so expected that little thought is put into what defines a good reader or writer; Nabokov tackles this idea head on. Nabokov’s intention of this piece is to passionately display a relationship that is formed between a good reader and a good writer, and the essential need for an open mind. He stresses the vitality of understanding instead of immediately identifying when reading; however he tests this ability in his audience by using bold and opinionated language that can distract from his intent. Nabokov both instructs and tests his audience as he defines major readers and writers and their use of understanding, all the while knowing the true meaning will be reached only by those who open their mind to his world. Nabokov describes the relationship that can be formed through the bond of good readers and good writers. According to Nabokov, for a work a literature to reach its full potential both the author and the audience must be open and unattached to assumptions and previous knowledge. Nabokov says the bond should establish, “an artistic harmonious balance between the reader’s mind and the author’s mind” (4). It is with this balance that a work of literature can come alive as an independent world. If either the mind of the author or reader is lacking imagination the work cannot take off and become a “supreme fairytale” (1), as Nabokov describes. Nabokov writes “Since the master artist used his imagination in creating his book, it is natural and fair that the consumer of a book should use his imagination too” (3). This key idea points out the misconception that a book can create an imaginative world...
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