The Triumph Of Magic Over The Brute
Excerpts from an interview with Vladimir Nabokov (1971).
Q: What do you do to prepare yourself for the ordeals of life?
A: Shave every morning before bath and breakfast so as to be ready to fly far at short notice.
Q: What are the literary virtues you seek to attain– and how?
A: Mustering the best words, with every available lexical, associative, and rhythmic assistance, to express as closely as possible what one wants to express.
Q: What is your position in the world of letters?
A: Jolly good view from up here.
Q: What struggles these days for pride of place in your mind?
A: Meadows. A meadow with Scarce Heath butterflies in North Russia, another with Grinnell’s Blue in Southern California.
That sort of thing.
Q: What are your views about man’s upward climb from slime?
A: A truly remarkable performance. Pity, though, that some of the slime still sticks to drugged brains.
Q: What kinds of power do you favor, and which do you oppose?
A: To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.
Q: What are the large issues that you can’t get interested in, and what are you most concerned with?
A: The larger the issue the less it interests me. Some of my best concerns are microscopic patches of color.
…& that, my friends, is why Vladimir Nabokov has a permanent place on my list of all-time icons.