On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind: What the Russian-American Odd Pair Can Tell Us about Some Values, Myths and Manias Widely Held Most Dea

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9781443850407: On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind: What the Russian-American Odd Pair Can Tell Us about Some Values, Myths and Manias Widely Held Most Dea
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On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind not only conjoins two seemingly divergent authors but also takes on the larger picture of libertarian trends and ideologies. These timely topics further intermingle with Bell-Villada's own conflicted relationship - personal, cultural, satirical, literary - to the "odd pair" and their ways of thinking. The inclusion of Louis Begley's essay adds yet another dimension to this unique, wide-ranging meditation on art and politics, history and memory.

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About the Author:

Gene H. Bell-Villada, born in Haiti and raised in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Venezuela, is Professor of Romance Languages at Williams College. His scholarly writings include general-interest books on Borges and Garcia Marquez (both now available in expanded second editions) and the wide-ranging Art for Art's Sake and Literary Life (finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award, and translated into Serbian and Chinese). He has also published two volumes of fiction and a memoir, Overseas American: Growing up Gringo in the Tropics. His latest work is a collection, Writing Out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads and Third Culture Kids (co-edited with Nina Sichel).

Review:

Out of the provocative coupling of two highly unlikely bedfellows comes not a double monster but instead a marvelous hybrid of literary analysis, cultural criticism, political commentary and memoir. Bell-Villada s considerable accomplishment lies not only in illuminating unsettling similarities between Nabokov and Rand (as well as deep and crucial differences), but in convincingly situating them both within a larger, serious and useful contemplation of American libertarianism. Deliciously opinionated, always engaging and at times movingly personal, this is a shrewd and remarkable work. And Louis Begley s trenchant introduction to Speak, Memory, long-suppressed and printed here for the first time, is a lovely, unexpected bonus. --Paul Russell, novelist, author of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov, Professor of English, Vassar College

Like Nina Khrushcheva and Lila Zanganeh, Bell-Villada has written a book that traces the surprising confluences between his own personal, literary, and political life and Nabokov s. The work of tracing is engrossing, but no one will confuse it for homage to Nabokov. Though the volume will strike some as calculatedly anti-hagiographical, what public deflation of Nabokov s reputation the book contains strikes me as more of a side-effect. Bell-Villada s primary purpose is to weave together memoir, scholarship, and politics in the process of candidly depicting the emotional and moral effects of being captivated or repelled by Nabokov s words --Zoran Kuzmanovich, Editor, Nabokov Studies and Professor of English, Davidson College

Gene H. Bell-Villada has written a deeply researched, compelling exploration of the parallel worlds of Rand and Nabokov. Yes, they are indeed an odd pair, as Bell-Villada points out. But, by exploring the ways these two writers diverge and intersect, Bell-Villada has broken new ground in the study of both these Russian-born novelists. I found his analysis of Rand s writings to be particularly compelling, such as his pithy observation that Rand s dystopian vision of the decline of railroads the central plot point in Atlas Shrugged is demonstrably false. Those insights alone make this book well worth reading. --Gary Weiss, author of Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America s Soul

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