Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 40, Vladimir Nabokov

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INTERVIEWER: 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?

NABOKOV: 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.

via Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 40, Vladimir Nabokov.

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4 Comments

  1. George Kaplan
    September 28, 2014

    Ha! One could not accuse ol’ Val of being emollient; “My knowledge of Mr Forster’s works is limited to one novel, which I dislike…”, what a perfectly poised, acid, utterly unnecessary, entirely hilarious remark! Writers can be supremely bitchy!

  2. September 28, 2014

    Always eloquent and to the point!

  3. September 29, 2014

    I wonder which “one novel” he’s referring to…

  4. June 19, 2015

    Awesome quote. I wonder if my writing would be better or worse if I chained my characters to the oars.

    And that picture!

    One of the things I really liked about that movie was that it made me appreciate the novel even more deeply.

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