Friday, September 11, 2009

From Nabokov's introduction to his second novel King, Queen, Knave:

"One might readily conjecture that a Russian writer in choosing a set of exclusively German characters (the appearances of my wife and me in the last two chapters are merely visits of inspection) was creating for himself insurmountable difficulties. I spoke no German, had no German friends, had not read a single German novel either in the original, or in translation. But in art, as in nature, a glaring disadvantage may turn out to be a subtle protective device... I felt no inclination to persevere in a technique assignable to the French "human document" type, with a hermetic community faithfully described by one of its members - something not unsimilar, in a small way, to the impassioned and boring ethnopsychics which depress one so often in modern novels. At a stage of gradual inner disentanglement, when I had not yet found, or did not yet dare apply, the very special methods of re-creating a historical situation that I used ten years later in The Gift, the lack of any emotional involvement and the fairytale freedom inherent in an unknown milieu answered my dream of pure invention."

1 comment:

ArtSparker said...

There is also something that happens at the borders of language when at least one of the speakers is not a native...words gain some other freight.