Nabokov, in a digression in his book on Gogol, shows ... how [poshlust] breeds in literature. It is (I quote) ‘especially vigorous and vicious when the sham is not obvious and when the values it mimics are considered . . . to belong to the very highest level of art, thought or emotion.’ He’s thinking of the kind of novels that get reviewed as (he quotes) ‘stirring, profound and beautiful’. The book may be ‘a perfectly honest and sincere (as the saying goes) attempt on the author’s part to write something he felt strongly about’, and may have been written without any commercial motive – but ‘the trouble is that sincerity, honesty and even kindness of heart cannot prevent the demon of poshlust from possessing himself of an author’s typewriter when the man lacks genius . . . The dreadful thing about poshlust is that one finds it so difficult to explain to people why a particular book which seems chock-full of noble emotion and compassion . . . is far, far worse than the kind of literature which everyone admits is cheap.’ (More...)

sonofabook on Nabokov's poshlust ("cheap, sham, tawdry")...

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