Nabokovilia in Elif Batuman's The Idiot!

Nabokov's Lectures on Literature shows up in Elif Batuman's The Idiot:

In the bookstore, waiting for Svetlana to finish comparing different editions of Beowulf, I started flipping through Nabokov's Lectures on Literature, and my attention was caught by a passage about math. According to Nabokov, when ancient people first invented arithmetic, it was an artificial system designed to impose order on the world. Over the course of centuries, as the system grew more and more intricate, "mathematics transcended their initial condition and became as it were a natural part of the world to which they had been merely applied... The whole world gradually turned out to be based on numbers, and nobody seems to have been surprised at the queer fact of the outer network becoming an inner skeleton."

Suddenly, all kinds of things I had learned in school seemed to fit together. Could it be true, what Nabokov said -- that the abstract calculations had come first, and only later turned out to describe reality? (109)

More Nabokovilia in Martin Amis

So I knew there was some Nabokovilia in Martin Amis's London Fields and The Information, but it wasn't till I visited the former and revisited the latter that I found even more.

See page 303 of London Fields:
Vladimir Nabokov, encouragingly, was a champion insomniac. He believed that this was the best way to divide people: those who slept and those who didn't. The great line in Transparent Things, on of the saddest novels in English: "Night is always a giant but this one was specially terrible."
Fee fie fo fum, goes the giant. How did VN ever slay the thing? I wander. I write. I wring my hands. Insomnia has something to be said for it, in my case. It beats dreaming.

And see too page 238 of The Information:
To paraphrase a critic who also knew about beetles and what they liked, Kafka's beetle took a beetle pleasure, a beetle solace, in all the darkness and the dust and the discards.

Three observations:

  1. Amis, in The War Against Cliche, his collection of book reviews, loves to use the same sort of Transparent-Things-insomniacs-or-not-"There's only two kinds of people in this world" line as an opening hook (not often, but often enough: some examples: "It was in Joysprick (1973), I think, that Anthony Burgess first made his grand-sounding distinction between the 'A' novelist and the 'B' novelist" (113), "There are two kinds of long novel" (121), "Dipsomaniacs are either born that way, or they just end up that way" (207)). 
  2. The Information's Richard Tull's beetle thoughts have been only slightly reshuffled in transport. Nabokov's original line, from the Kafka chapter in Lectures on Literature, reads: "...curiously enough, Gregor, though a very sick beetle -- the apple wound is festering, and he is starving -- finds some beetle pleasure in crawling among all that dusty rubbish." (Tull festers a bit himself: bitter, ignored, he is a writer of unreadable fiction condemned to read and review lengthy, unreadable biographies.)
  3. There's Nabokov in Kingsley too! I'll be checking out the letters and Stanley and the Women presently.