The Paris Review DNA Archive has been a bit slow in getting their 1970s interviews up (James M. Cain! Anthony Burgess! William Gass! Kurt Vonnegut! Eudora Welty! And more! Hurry up! It’s past March 1, dammit!). But this interview with Nabokov is a hoot. Some choice excerpts:
INTERVIEWER: And the function of the editor? Has one ever had literary advice to offer?
NABOKOV: By “editor” I suppose you mean proofreader. Among those I have known limpid creatures of limitless tact and tenderness who would discuss with me a semicolon as if it were a point of honor — which, indeed, a point of art often is. But I have come across a few pompous avuncular brutes who would attempt to “make suggestions” which I countered with a thunderous “stet!”
INTERVIEWER: Are there contemporary writers you follow with great pleasure?
NABOKOV: There are several such writers, but I shall not name them. Anonymous pleasure hurts nobody.
INTERVIEWER: Do you follow some with great pain?
NABOKOV: No. Many accepted authors simply do not exist for me. Their names are engraved on empty graves, their books are for dummies, they are complete nonentities insofar as my taste in reading is concerned. Brecht, Faulkner, Camus, many others, mean absolutely nothing to me, and I must fight a suspicion of conspiracy against my brain when I see blandly accepted as “great literature” by critics and fellow authors Lady Chatterly’s copulations or the pretentious nonsense of Mr. Pound, that total fake. I note he has replaced Dr. Schweitzer in some homes.
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