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1972 Anonymous

"The New York newspaper for which this interview, conducted by correspondence in 1972, was intended, refused to publish it. My interviewer's questions have been abridged or stylized in the following version."

Некоторые НАБОКОВские интервью / Nabokov's interview


Источник: www
 
     The New York newspaper for which this interview, conducted
by correspondence in 1972, was intended, refused to publish it.
My interviewer's  questions  have  been abridged or stylized in
the following version.

     Critics of Transparent Things seem  to  haw  had
difficulty in describing its theme. 

     Its  theme  is  merely a beyond-the-cypress inquiry into a
tangle of  random  destinies.  Amongst  the  reviewers  several
careful  readers  have published some beautiful stuff about it.
Yet neither they nor, of course, the common criticule discerned
the structural knot of the story. May I explain that simple and
elegant point?

     You certainly may. 

     Allow me to quote a  passage  from  my  first  page  which
baffled  the wise and misled the silly: "When we concentrate on
a material object . . . the very act of attention may  lead  to
our  involuntarily  sinking into the history of that object." A
number of such  instances  of  falling  through  the  present's
"tension  film"  are  given in the course of the book. There is
the personal history of a pencil. There is  also,  in  a  later
chapter,  the past of a shabby room, where, instead of focusing
on Person and the prostitute, the spectral observer drifts down
into the middle of the previous  century  and  sees  a  Russian
traveler,  a  minor  Dostoevski,  occupying  that room, between
Swiss gambling house and Italy.

     Another critic has said-

     Yes, I am coming to that. Reviewers of my little book made
the lighthearted mistake of assuming that seeing through things
is the professional function of a novelist. Actually, that kind
of generalization is not  only  a  dismal  commonplace  but  is
specifically   untrue.   Unlike   the  mysterious  observer  or
observers in Transparent Things, a novelist is, like all
mortals, more fully at home on the surface of the present  than
in the ooze of the past.

     So  who is that observer; who are those italicized "we"
in the fourteenth line of the novel; who, for  goodness'  sake,
is the "I" in its very first line? 

     The  solution,  my friend, is so simple that one is almost
embarrassed to furnish it. But here  goes.  An  incidental  but
curiously  active  component  of  my novel is Mr. R., an
American writer of German extraction. He  writes  English  more
correctly than he speaks it. In conversation R. has an annoying
habit of introducing here and there the automatic "you know" of
the German emigre, and, more painfully yet, of misusing,
garbling,  or  padding  the  commonest  American cliche. A good
specimen is his intrusive, though well meant, admonition in the
last line of my last chapter: "Easy, you know, does it, son."

     Some reviewers saw  in  Mr.  R.  a  portrait  or
parody of Mr. N. 

     Exactly. They were led to that notion by mere flippancy of
thought  because, I suppose, both writers are naturalized U. S.
citizens and both happen, or happened, to live in  Switzerland.
When  Transparent  Things starts, Mr. R. is already dead
and his last letter has been filed away in the "repository"  in
his publisher's office (see my Chapter Twenty-One). Not only is
the surviving writer an incomparably better artist than Mr. R.,
but  the  latter,  in his Tralatitions, actually squirts
the venom of  envy  at  the  infuriatingly  smiling  Adarn  von
Librikov  (Chapter  Nineteen),  an  anagrammatic alias that any
child can decode. On the threshold of my novel Hugh  Person  is
welcomed  by a ghost or ghosts-- by his dead father, ! perhaps,
or dead wife; more  probably,  by  the  late  Monsieur  Kronig,
former  director of the Ascot Hotel; still more probably by Mr.
R. 's phantom. This promises a thriller: whose ghost will  keep
intruding   upon   the  plot?  One  thing,  however,  is  quite
transparent and certain. As intimated already in this exegesis,
it is no other than a discarnate, but still  rather  grotesque,
Mr. R. who greets newly-dead Hugh in the last line of the book.

     I  see.  And  what  are  you up to now. Baron Librikov?
Another novel? Memoirs? Cocking a snoot at dunderheads? 

     Two volumes of short stories and a  collection  of  essays
are  by now almost completed, and a new wonderful novel has its
little foot in the door. As to cocking a snoot at  dunderheads,
I  never  do that. My books, all my books, are addressed not to
"dunderheads"; not to the cretins who believe that I like  long
Latinate  words;  not to the learned loonies who find sexual or
religious allegories in my fiction; no, my books are  addressed
to Adam von L., to my family, to a few intelligent friends, and
to all my likes in all the crannies of the world, from a carrel
in America to the nightmare depths of Russia.
 
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