Vladimir Nabokov, The Art of Fiction No. 40

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Interviewed by Herbert Gold
From the Paris Review

(A/N: Here is an interview done by Herbert Gold to the genius behind the masterpiece, “Lolita”. I posted this interview here because I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I believe you can almost feel Nabokov’s famous sarcasm and dry humour from his answers. Enjoy!)

Vladimir Nabokov lives with his wife Véra in the Montreux Palace Hotel in Montreux, Switzerland, a resort city on Lake Geneva which was a favorite of Russian aristocrats of the last century. They dwell in a connected series of hotel rooms that, like their houses and apartments in the United States, seem impermanent, places of exile. Their rooms include one used for visits by their son Dmitri, and another, the chambre de debarras, where various items are deposited—Turkish and Japanese editions of Lolita, other books, sporting equipment, an American flag.

Nabokov arises early in the morning and works. He does his writing on filing cards, which are gradually copied, expanded, and rearranged until they become his novels. During the warm season in Montreux he likes to take the sun and swim at a pool in a garden near the hotel. His appearance at sixty-eight is heavy, slow, and powerful. He is easily turned to both amusement and annoyance, but prefers the former. His wife, an unequivocally devoted collaborator, is vigilant over him, writing his letters, taking care of business, occasionally even interrupting him when she feels he is saying the wrong thing. She is an exceptionally good-looking, trim, and sober-eyed woman. The Nabokovs still go off on frequent butterfly-hunting trips, though the distances they travel are limited by the fact that they dislike flying.

Read more here.


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