July 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of Vladimir Nabokov’s death in 1977. He was a multilingual master of prose who crafted some of the twentieth century’s most enduring works of fiction, including Lolita; Pale Fire; Ada, or Ardor; Pnin; and Invitation to a Beheading. His sentences were more like sculptures than strings of words, even when he wrote in English, his fourth language. Although profound on the darkness of human behavior, he was also funny as hell—who could forget, for instance, how he unceremoniously explained Humbert’s mother’s death in Lolita with two words: “picnic, lightning”? His fiction could be challenging and ambitiously experimental, as in his novel Pale Fire, which consists of a 999-line poem written by one of the characters, and endnotes to the poem written by another. Nabokov’s novels were each… Continue reading.
On the Fine Art of the Footnote | Literary Hub
In fact, what all of these works show—from Nabokov and Wallace to Danielewski and Boully—is that experimentation quickly stops being experimental when it works well, and gives way to progression. Expanding the limits of storytelling is not the job of all storytellers, and some attempts at this have failed to produce worthwhile results, but what the aforementioned artists have proven is that once we accept a new form—i.e., once it’s stripped of its novelty—we allow ourselves to see just how useful and radical and profound it can be.