Nabokov's Speak Memory

Speaking of Classics, here is a quote from a great one:
The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour). {Opening paragraph of Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiography Speak Memory}

Dark poetry no?

My book addiction continues

In the ongoing saga of my addiction to book buying, I fell off the wagon hard tonight! A bookstore in town (actually a chain) called half-price books got a hold of a bunch of the Everyman’ Library versions of classic works. I had picked up some Nabokov, Conrad, Faulkner, and Mann previously but it proved too great temptation and I returned for Kafka, Kipling, and Hemingway. I also got a beautiful edition of Moby Dick and a couple of quality paperback versions of The Wandering Jew and Balzac’s The Bureaucrats. Whew! Now I have more books than I can possibly read but these are works that will be relevant for a long time so no rush.

I also bought my wife a beautiful art book on The Oriental in Western Art that she had been drooling over recently – see I am not selfish I can share my addiction!

The firs step is admitting you have a problem right?

Ambrose and plagiarism I wanted

Ambrose and plagiarism
I wanted to comment on the Stephan Ambrose plagiarism story, as it is one area where I have a small bit of qualification (I have a graduate degree in History and have read much of Ambrose?s work). I think the left right issue (raised by Kausfiles) is a stupid one. Oddly enough I think Talking Points is just about right – in other words this was sloppy scholarship and writing that should embarrass Ambrose but not serious plagiarism that should put him outside the pale of respectable scholarship (my paraphrase). I think the likely cause of the mistake is Ambrose’s recent slide from serious scholarship to quick topical books based on the historical record already available. This is all too typical of book publishing. An author gets hot and his publisher naturally wants to get as much product out as he can. Ambrose?s work on Eisenhower, Nixon, Lewis and Clark, the Transcontinental Railroad, and World War Two are all readable, enjoyable, and scholarly work. His recent spat of WWII works, however, seem to be increasingly focused on speed rather than precision. If you are putting out a book a year it is likely that you are not doing research but rather compiling material – hence Ambrose?s slide towards journalistic history and/or works made up of secondary source material. I am sure Ambrose has a great deal of material on WWII but does he need to constantly be issuing books focused on smaller and smaller areas of the war? It looks like his rush to publish has finally caught up with him. (BTW – The riddicuous number of books on the Cival War, World War II, and Vietnam, often linked to the lack of popular works on other subjects, frustrates some historians. The Greatest Generation hoopla has only added to this problem. Although I see some merit in this critique, I am a fan of Ambrose?s work.)