Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005289, Wed, 5 Jul 2000 21:35:05 -0700

Nabokov's Method of Writing and Literary Structure and Content of
His Books (fwd)
From: Jennifer Parsons <jdparsons@home.com>

I wonder if anyone has noted that Nabokov in fact wrote on the famed
index cards in his scientific/lepidopteral writing, possibly before he
began to use the method for fiction writing. It seems plausible that the
method he used for his scientific writing simply led to his using it for
his fiction writing. From Kurt Johnson's and Steve Coates' NABOKOV'S
BLUES - The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius:

"Downey, who greatly admired Nabokov's talent for anatomical analysis,
took pains to share his work with the author and asked for advice on the
status and validity of available names from the groups Nabokov had
studied. Nabokov's response was to send Downey the card catalog of his
genitalic dissections. This catalog was actually a set of index cards
on which Nabokov had kept his notes and drawings of specific genitalia.
(This was a common practice in scientific research, but Nabokov seems to
have adapted it for fiction composition; LOLITA and many more of his
novels were written on similar cards, and his fictional poet John Shade
uses the same technique in PALE FIRE.) According to Downey, Nabokov
replied that he was too busy with literary work to write a detailed
response to Downey's questions and that the cards would save a great
deal of time."

Galya Diment wrote:
> From: InterPlan2@aol.com
> Not to suggest VN could be intimidated by a full-sized blank page, it is
> surprising to note, if one has experimented with the method, that getting a
> few words neatly composed on an index card is far less intimidating than
> doing the same on a standard sheet of paper. Plus, they are much more durable
> when it comes time to erase the silly bits.
> Daniel Chamberlain
> http://dechamberlain.web.com