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The movie Beowulf is a failed pagan epic, too Christian to be of any heretical weight. It begins in gold humanistic grandeur, yet it ends in a tarnished tin Christianity, a weak and inglorious metal. George Bernard Shaw gives a solemn “huzzah” when Unfirth mocks the eternal life doctrine. Julian the Apostate nods in approval of the low treatment of women, passed like possessions from man to man, but de Sade tsk-tsks his disapproval of the offscreen rape, good old Kubrick would’ve had it front and center. When hoary-headed Beowulf complains that “the time of heroes is dead…the Christ god has killed it, leaving humankind with nothing but weeping martyrs” Nietzsche gives a sharp clap of the hands, but then proceeds to grit his teeth at the weakness of Beowulf in showing regret, he pulls his hair as Beowulf plays to the sympathies of the audience (an unbecoming act for an uber-mensch), and storms out with bitter tears at the moralism of the ending. “You have conquered, O Galilean.”

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Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

Quotes from Vladimir Nabokov:
Happy is the novelist who manages to preserve an actual love letter that he received when he was young within a work of fiction, embedded in it like a clean bullet in flabby flesh and quite secure there, among spurious lives.

I cannot conceive how anybody in his right mind should go to a psychoanalyst.

I confess, I do not believe in time.

I have often noticed that after I had bestowed on the characters of my novels some treasured item of my past, it would pine away in the artificial world where I had so abruptly placed it.

I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.

My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody’s concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses -the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions -which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way.

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May 2008
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