a despatch from another world

Vladimir Nabokov discusses Lolita with, I think, Lionel Trilling on a fifties TV show. It’s funny: Lolita seems so contemporary but the clip reminds us how much literary culture — indeed, culture as a whole — has changed. Could you imagine a television today devoting so much time to tweedy, pipe-puffing bookmen?

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

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  1. Not really the same, though, is it? I mean, books do get on TV today, it's true, but the focus is much more on personalities. You wouldn't get a trio of dry-as-dust old buffers just talking like that.

  2. Posh accents for an American show! – though of course watching American movies from around the same time seems to confirm that a variant of the British posh accent was common for American actors.

    That may in fact be something that, consciously or unconsciously, they and Jennifer Byrne hold in common – the rarefied air, the self-satisfaction in being so obviously cultured, and, oh my, yes, the *elitism*!

  3. tweedy pipe-puffing is still in vogue here in france. they devote a surprising, delightful amount of time to literature on some channels. there's even a late-night show featuring unkown actors quite simply sitting on a couch reading from great classics. wierd.

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