Nabokov: Slavery and Douglass Essay

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Self Evaluation
Vladimir Nabokov believes that there are certain things people must do to become a good reader. From his rules I would consider myself as an average reader. Nabokov stated, “…the good reader is one who has imagination, memory, a dictionary, and some artistic sense”; not every person in the world has all four of these things. I know that I have a hard time using my imagination and artistic sense because I’m not very artistic. I have a good memory though, I would reread to help my understanding of what was happening, and I always use a dictionary when I read so that I can look up words that I don’t know. I do things that are right by Nabokov’s standards but I also do a lot that are wrong.
I used a dictionary throughout the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I would mark a word and look it up, sometimes I would write the definition if I really needed to. I would swap the definition for the word used in the book to make sure that it made sense in its place. I looked up the word “constables” on page 96 of the novel. This makes me a good reader by
Nabokov’s standards because I used the technique of reading with a dictionary. I reread many of the passages if I didn’t feel like I completely understood what happened or I thought that it was a very important part to remember. I would read a page and then I would review it so that I could write my annotations. This allowed me to get a basic understanding of the happenings in each chapter, as well as develop a better understanding of what I was annotating for.
Since I was little I have always learned to make connections with characters in the books that I have read and I still continue to do that today. I don’t “remain a little aloof” when reading,
I’ve always read as if I were a character in the book and react as if it happened to me. According to Nabokov “...this is the worst thing a reader can do, he identifies himself with a character in the book”. I wasn’t able to look at all of the situations presented throughout the book and evaluate what was happening from the perspective of the slave owner and the perspective of the slave, without an opinion or feelings because I wasn’t reading from a spectator's position. I didn’t get to have the bigger understanding of slavery and its effects. I also started to become emotionally attached to Douglass and his struggles as a slave, how the people in the book didn’t deserve to be treated the way that they did. They were human too, so what gave the white people power over them. I was on the side of the slaves and I wanted the best for them. For example when Douglass writes, ‘“If you teach that nigger…how to read, there would be no keeping him.
It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master”’(Douglass 48), I was horrified at what was said and didn’t understand how someone could be so cruel.
Overall I wouldn’t consider myself an amazing reader by Nabokov's standards, but I wouldn’t consider myself a horrible reader either because I did do some things correctly. I used some of the advanced reading skills and techniques that he approves of but I also followed my heart in other parts instead of only paying attention to my brain.



Douglass Evaluation
Douglass is a major writer by Nabokov's standards, a “storyteller, teacher, enchanter”(Nabokov 4). Frederick Douglass was a triple threat he had it all: a storyteller, telling the story of his life as a slave; a teacher, educating the world about the reality of slavery; and an enchanter, bringing his audiences to feel as though they were watching everything unfold right before their eyes. Frederick Douglass went from being an uneducated slave to one of the most educated and influential men of color for his time, he taught himself much of what he knew.
Douglass became a well know author, having written two books about his life as a slave and his life after slavery.
A story is a record of fanciful or