Opinions on Nobakov

I wanted to use this post to circle back to a conversation we had in class late last week, where several classmates and I raised our concerns/critiques of Nobakov’s “Good Readers and Good Writers.” I want to reiterate and clarify that, although I understand the need for a framework when reading in a literature class, I deeply disagree with his argument about things “good readers” do. Nobakov says that in order to be a “good reader” one must use an “impersonal imagination,” where they do not see themselves in the story nor connect it to their own life, but instead properly immerse themselves in the world they are reading about. I see where he is coming from here, but I stand by that a key rule of art–maybe the only rule art has–is that the artist gets no say in how people interpret their work. To try and demand how a reader sees your writing is not only impossible, but also somewhat narcissistic. It’s a sign of a god-complex: a hubris large enough to think that an author has the right to control the inner workings of a readers brain. One of the most valuable aspects of art is the variation in how different people interpret the same piece. When Nobakov tries to control how we read, he attacks that aspect of the process, which does a disservice to the readers and to the work itself.

3 thoughts on “Opinions on Nobakov

  1. kewerthmann

    I agree and I really like when you said “The artist gets no say in how people interpret their work”. Everyone has a different view and take on how they perceive things. By putting restrictions on how a person can interpret a piece of work, it is wrong. People should be allowed to interpret different pieces of art however they would like because we all have different viewpoints and can see something in a different way than someone else. They should be no restrictions on your connection or view of art.

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  2. GRAYSON ADELSTEIN

    I really agree with your take on “good reading”. I strongly believe that one should interpret a reading however they wish, and there is truly no right/single way to interpret a given text.

    I also appreciate your argument about the nature of art, and how Nabakov’s radical claims are potentially problematic.

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  3. Julien D.

    I really like your opinion about art here. I never thought about this topic in comparison to a piece of art but it makes a lot of sense; they’re aren’t really any guide rails to how we interpret it and that is the beauty of it. Nabokov has some good ideas, however, this one I disagree with.

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