That the narrator’s academic community is in turmoil is terrible enough. Students are using the same 19th-century texts that she used to make racist remarks about white privilege as a vehicle for their own grievances (“I didn’t want to be in a society where there were people who didn’t read books”).
While the narrator may have once felt deference to (and “overwhelming” lust for”) her own long-ago instructors, it’s evident who’s currently in charge when it comes to morality, discipline, and principle on a liberal college campus when “the students rule the roost” at this moment in time. When discussing Nabokov, it’s impossible to avoid mentioning his most renowned masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard.
The reason I felt more and more like not teaching, was because I believed art wasn’t a moral activity,” says the narrator. It was when the church or the state got engaged in the art that morality was introduced.” Inconveniently, she’s unable to keep pace with the modern world.
Then, some of those same kids are triggered by John’s transgressions and her public nonresponse to them. After being praised as a “sexy, bright lady” by a group of young women but being told that her presence in the classroom is sending out the incorrect message, the narrator is forced to answer with the same kind of rambling that they did. She often advises her students, “We all live and work within structures and institutions.
“I work and live in an environment that tolerates institutionalised racism, sexism, and homophobia.” When they finally leave her office, she calls them a moniker that is less than flattering.
Our hero is distracted by Vladimir’s visit, which comes with a notable publication and an unstable (and attractive) writer-wife in tow, and soon he is primping, exercising, mining his book for conversational fodder, and scheming an escapade that is either a seduction or a “Misery”-style kidnapping. Although his dismissal hearing is about to begin, her husband may be out on another ill-advised seduction while their daughter is still in the midst of her own romantic crisis. And, oh, did I mention… the blaze? This bonfire is rife with snobbery, for sure.
Ultimately, Jonas enjoys torturing these characters as writers more than skewering them as English instructors.
I continued thinking about him and me on some panellist stage, at some book festival in some smaller place like Calgary or Austin and San Diego. I kept wondering about him and me on some panellist stage Both of us, award winners, would stay in the same hotel and meet for a martini in the dark of the bar”), and a suspected infidelity is made immensely more ridiculous when it is learned that the characters in issue are actually writing together.” There are others who enjoy writing as well, as one of them snaps at you.