Literati roundup: news from Yaşar Kemal, Ulrich Beck and Vladimir Nabokov

Doctors say the condition of the 92-year-old author is critical and his symptoms suggest pneumonia
Ulrich Beck – a memorial from a student to a teacher

Together with the beginning of the new year, the world received news of the death of Ulrich Beck, one of its most valued sociologists. The terms he introduced into the scholarly lexicon serve as a symbolic testament to this achievement.


Scott Lash remembers Ulrich Beck

I first encountered Ulrich Beck as a (superannuated) post-doc. I was a Humboldt Stipendiat in Berlin, in 1987, and heard …

Just above, hear émigré Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita read the opening sentences of that novel in both English and Russian, after offering some brief comments on his relationship to his former native country. Then, after a few minutes of discussion of a work that became incorporated into hisAda or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, we get Nabokov the cantankerous critic. Or rather, Nabokov, the critic of critics. The author had little regard for critics themselves. In a Paris Review interview, he opines that the only purpose of literary criticism was that it “gives readers, including the author of the book, some information about the critic’s intelligence, or honesty, or both.” In the filmed interview above (at the 3:24 mark), Nabokov points his lance at the inflated popular notion of “great books”:

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