Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015673, Wed, 14 Nov 2007 06:56:12 -0500

SIGHTING: VN and former student Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
[EDNOTE. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first woman to serve as a judge on
the U.S. Supreme Court, recently explained in an interview with Legal
Times that she took a class at Cornell with VN and that his teaching has
influenced her writing of legal opinions. – SES]

On taking an undergraduate class with Vladimir Nabokov at Cornell:

"He was an incredible character. I thought many times that he changed
the way I read and the way I write. I loved his class; I can still hear
the things he said. When I read Lolita, I could just imagine how he said
those syllables."

She remembers his advice on good writing:

"'Have the reader ready for what you're going to say.' He gave an
example of why he liked the English language. He said, think of French
(which was his first language): If you say 'white horse' in French, it's
'cheval blanc.' And you immediately hear 'horse' and you're thinking
'brown.' But in English it's 'white horse,' so you don't see a brown
horse and have to displace it. He was big on the written word and on
making word pictures."

She thinks about Nabokov when she writes today:

"I do fuss over my opinions, and I hope I never stop."


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