Nabokov’s take on good readers

Vladimir Nabokov has a strong stance on what makes a good reader. He makes many good points such as good readers are good deceivers, re-readers, and observers. What really struck me about his argument was that a good reader has impersonal imagination and artistic delight. Nabokov highlights that in order to have these traits as a reader, one has to detach from the story and stay aloof while also taking pleasure in said aloofness at the same time. When I read that part of “Good Readers and Good Writers,” I wasn’t sure that I agreed with that argument. However, through the analysis of his argument and further thought on it, I now see where he is coming from. When I have read in the past, I have found myself getting so consumed in the literature that I don’t necessarily enjoy it. His point that a good reader knows when and when not to use their imagination has stuck with me because I find myself looking too much into what the author means literally and not using my imagination. I think the pleasure in the aloofness of a reader is key as well because if a reader is simply just detaching from the story without pleasure, it is difficult to enjoy or imagine things. He concludes the paragraph by stating, “We must see things and hear things, we must visualize the rooms, the clothes, the manners of an author’s people,” which essentially argues that the artistic delight aspect allows the balance between the author’s mind and reader’s mind (41). Paying close attention and using imagination when reading these details allows the reader to visualize the literature without getting too consumed.

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