Monday, 6 October 2014

Writers who have shaped my ideas about literature
However, instead of making such a general list, I'm going to write about 2 writers who have shaped my ideas about literature.
1st was Vladimir Nabokov, through his novels as well as his writings/talks about literature, especially the lectures. As you can see, he's the 3rd most-written-about writer on his blog, frequently quoted and referred to when I'm writing about literature/ reading in general, or about other writers. I suppose you can also find some trace of Nabokov's influence in my posts about Dostoyevsky, D. H. Lawrence, the Brontes, Turgenev, E. L. Doctorow, etc. Of course, I have my own opinions, e.g I see Dostoyevsky's shortcomings and think him a thinker rather than an artist but still love his works, but it's thanks to Nabokov that I've formed my ideas about literature, about good writers and good readers, about language, about the importance of details, about perspective and subjectivity, about philistines and philistinism, about poshlostism, about learning to "hoist ourselves just a little higher than we generally are in order to sample the rarest and ripest fruit of art which human thought has to offer", etc.
Later came Lev Tolstoy. The discovery of Tolstoy officially introduced me to Russian literature and other Russian greats such as Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Turgenev, Leskov, etc. (though previously I had read some works by Ostrovsky, Paustovsky, Bulgakov...), but more importantly, reading Anna Karenina for the 1st time was a shock, a revelation, an enlightenment, a "marker" in my life of reading after which everything's changed forever. Having read Anna Karenina, and a year later, War and Peace, I realised that I could never look at literature the same way again. Tolstoy's an ideal, a standard. A painter, a psychologist, he showed me what could be done with a pen, and at the same time taught me about empathy, changed my way of looking at life, and other people, and myself. For that I am grateful. If Nabokov has influenced me in the act of reading, Tolstoy has influenced me on a more personal level, his works have an impact on my life and way of thinking.
If only they also helped me write better. If only.

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