Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Nabokov and Tattoos

I started reading Nabokov's Lectures on Don Quixote last night. I have only read the intro to the book and the introductory lecture by Nabokov and already I find myself wishing I had professors like him when I was in college. How can you not be charmed by someone who says things like this:

Let us not kid ourselves. Cervantes is no land surveyor. The wobbly backdrop of Don Quixote is fiction--and rather unsatisfactory fiction at that. With its preposterous inns full of belated characters from Italian storybooks and its preposterous mountains teeming with lovelorn poetasters disguised as Arcadian shepherds, the picture Cervantes paints of the country is about as true and typical of seventeenth-century Spain as Santa Claus is true and typical of the twentieth-century North Pole. Indeed, Cervantes seems to know Spain as little as Gogol did central Russia.
And this:
Some critics, a very vague minority long dead, have tried to prove that Don Quixote is but a stale farce. Others have maintained that Don Quixote is the greatest novel ever written. A hundred years ago one enthusiastic French critic, Saint-Beuve, called it "the Bible of Humanity." Let us not fall under the spell of these enchanters.
Not only can he say preposterous twice and not sound like a blustering idiot, but he can make smart and sarcastic jokes too. The only slightly funny professor I had in college was the one who taught the undergrad Shakespeare survey course. He was mildly amusing at times, but it also helped that he looked like Falstaf. And now, turning to something not remotely bookish, here, for those who expressed interest, are my tattoos. spiderweb_tattoo_IMG_0132 This was my first one. It was inspired by both Charlotte's Web and Adrienne Rich's book of poetry A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far gnome_tattoo_IMG_0130 This is my second tattoo. I designed it myself after reading Gnomes. Gnomes are vegetarian and like animals and gardening. I felt a certain affinity. Plus they are just so darn cute! Strength_tattoo_IMG_0133 My third, and most recent (two years ago). It is a card from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. It stands for power, energy, action, courage and magnanimity. It also means strength of will since it is not by physical strength that the woman tamed the lion. One of these days I will get something decidedly bookish but I haven't figured out what yet. I imagine some spiralling lettering coming out from an open book. But I can't quite see what the words say.