Aristotle and Nabokov: Chelsea Kehrli’s thoughts
One way that Nabokov and Aristotle disagree is in the way the audience is involved into the story. Nabokov says that the worst way a reader can read a book is to identify himself with a character in the story. He says the reader should be a combination of subjective, and objective. If the reader is only subjective, they let their emotions get the best of them. When they are relating to a character, they are trying to think of how the situation relates to themselves, and not fully letting the story be played out how it was written. Nabokov wants us to be “aloof” and let ourselves feel the story. If we are always trying to relate a character to ourselves, than we are not really paying attention to the story. He is telling the reader that it’s okay to let the story move us emotionally, and it should, but not to have so much feeling where we lose the imagination the author was trying to instill in us.
Aristotle differs from this because he talks about what a “hero” in a story should be, and how we should relate to them. He says that they should be almost perfect; that they should have flaws like us as the reader. We should be able to relate to them in such a way that we feel real fear, and pity while watching a tragedy. Aristotle thought highly of tragedies and said that “a weakness of the spectators, for the poets to follow the crowd, making what suites their wishes.” Aristotle says that the most tragic of plays are the ones that are put on right. He thought it was very important for the reader to relate closely to the actors so they can feel what the actor is feeling. On the other hand, Nabokov wants the reader to pay attention to the story, and not identify himself with a character.
I feel that this is the strongest difference between Nabokov and Aristotle because in any story, or play, it is important as a viewer to fully understand what they are reading. How they understand it, mainly by relating to it or not, comes into play to understanding the story. Personally, I feel that relating to a character helps to understand the situation more, and adds more imagination to the story.