Showing posts from June, 2015

Craig Raine's shrinking violet

The anecdotal jocularity of sexual frisson has never been far from Raine's World. A review of Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years by Brian Boyd (Chatto, 783 pp, £25.00, January 1992) is perhaps symptomatic: His private manner was utterly winning, particularly his comic mode. Boyd includes two anecdotes, both innocently revealing. In the late Sixties, Nabokov asked Alfred Appel if student unrest was disrupting his lectures. The only demonstrations were demonstrations of affection; I told him about a nun who sat in the back row of one of my lecture courses, and who one day complained after class that a couple near her were always spooning. ‘Sister,’ I said, ‘in these troubled times we should be grateful if that’s all they were doing.’ ... ‘Ohhh,’ moaned Nabokov, mourning my lost opportunity, clapping his hand to his head in mock anguish. ‘You should have said, “Sister, be grateful that they were not forking.’ ” ["Craig Raine fondles Vladimir Nabokov" ;