" I think the purpose of writers is to produce work that has no designs upon us, that do not aim to convince or convert or instruct us; works that follow their own aesthetic imperatives and no others, works that are good but can’t really be said to do good, that are superfluous to the economics and politics of utility, though they may be commodities, even popular ones in high demand. They may seem to have no purpose, but when arts die, when they are perverted to propaganda or mere profit, our lives grow worse, even if – and this is the worst –we can’t discern this."
If this is essentially what you mean by the much more extremist Nabokov position, I can totally agree. (Or almost totally. I think that books such as The Pilgrim's Progress, Animal Farm, and such have value. They can even be enlightening in much the same way that nonfiction may be enlightening. As art, however, they are exceptions. There are relatively few books that are really successful in this mode. Most are a dull waste of time.)
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