Well readhead: the most arrogant interview ever
I remember once going to Guantanamo Bay on assignment and reading “Lolita” on the military jet en route.
I didn’t think anything of it until I noticed a few people giving me sideways glances.
It made me wonder if it weren’t slightly inappropriate reading material for a public place. Sort of like clipping your toenails at the dinner table.
Nonetheless, I kept on with my reading, thought it was a brilliant book and have been a fan of the author, Vladimir Nabokov, ever since.
This week, I stumbled across a 1967 interview with Nabokov and it is hilariously arrogant and arch.
The interviewer, from Paris Review, poses the question, “E.M. Forster speaks of his major characters sometimes taking over and dictating the course of his novels. Has this ever been a problem for you, or are you in complete command?”
“My knowledge of Mr. Forster’s works is limited to one novel, which I dislike; and anyway, it was not he who fathered that trite little whimsy about characters getting out of hand; it is as old as the quills, although of course one sympathizes with his people if they try to wriggle out of that trip to India or wherever he takes them. My characters are galley slaves.”
The interviewer goes on to ask, “What have you learned from [James] Joyce?”
“Nothing,” comes Nabokov’s reply.
And as for which contemporary writers the author enjoys?
“There are several such writers, but I shall not name them. Anonymous pleasure hurts nobody.”
The Nabokov interview is one of this fortnight’s ten things to read, watch or listen to. Next fortnight, I start my 2010 wrap up of the best Well-readhead items plus some summer reading recommendations.
1. The Paris Review interview with Vladimir Nabokov from 1967
2. I recently anchored a TV broadcast featuring the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and wrote this piece for The Spectator about what it was like behind the scenes.
3. The hilarious Hamish & Andy interviewed Mrs Clinton as well and she displays a great sense of humour.
4. This is one of the most amusing ‘apologies’ for a news story error I’ve read.
5. Another excellent piece from Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair on dealing with his cancer diagnosis, in particular what people say to him and what they should say.
6. Two fantastic British comedians compete over who does the best Michael Caine impersonation
7. How many ways can Don Draper say the word ‘what’ on Mad Men? (from @philwillis on twitter)
8 If you’ve seen The Social Network, you may be interested in this Sean Parker profile (the guy played by Justin Timberlake) in Vanity Fair. (thanks @sharrynstormont on twitter).
9. A beautifully written piece by Roger Ebert about loneliness (via @colvinius)
10. The Economist has an interesting article about who owns a person’s online identity.
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