Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005284, Wed, 5 Jul 2000 10:47:28 -0700

Nabokov's Method of Writing and Literary Structure and Content of
His Books (fwd)
From: Mark Bennett <mab@straussandasher.com>

The significance that some of VN's admirers have attached to his use of
index cards for composing his later works is interesting. Really, what can
be accomplished by the use of the famous 3x5 (or 4x6) lined index cards that
cannot be accomplished by the use of humdrum 8.5 x 11 sheets of lined
notebook paper? Much is made of the ease with which the index cards can be
shuffled and rearranged as need and inspiration dictate, but can't loose
sheets of paper also be shuffled, rearranged and laid side to side in
storyboard fashion as well? Granted, index cards are sturdy little fellows,
less easily damaged or destroyed than paper; and storing and transporting
them in one of the shoebox-like containers designed for the purpose makes
for a convenient, efficient, and altogether sensible writing system, but I
fail to see any particular significance in the use of the system. After
all, "The Defense," "The Gift," "Speak Memory," and "Invitation to a
Beheading" were written without benefit of the index card and no. 2 pencil
system, nor were they composed on the famous, serendipitously discovered
lectern. I've always thought that VN's emphasis on the mechanics of his
compositional method in interviews given later in his life was an example of
his notorious evasive teasing, a point made by Gore Vidal in his review of
Strong Opinions. (In that same review, Vidal also asserted that the
interviews between Alfred Appel, Jr. and VN were obvious frauds and that
Appel was clearly a Nabokovian invention, the "Jr." being dead giveaway. If
I am not mistaken [I am writing from a Kinbote-like memory, if not in a
Timon-like cave] Appel anticipated, by a year or two, Vidal's denial of his
corporeal existence, and in the preface to "The Annotated Lolita" asserted
that, despite appearances to the contrary, he really, truly exists and was
not invented by Vladimir Nabokov - a neat Nabokovian twist.)

Mark Bennett