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This interview (published in Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature, vol. 2, spring 1967) was conducted on September 25, 27, 28, 29, 1966, at Montreux, Switzerland. Nabokov and his wife have for the last six years lived in an opulent hotel built in 1835, which still retains its nineteenth-century atmosphere. ther wrote out his answers to the questions or dictated them to the interviewer; in some instances, notes from the conversation were later recast as formal questions-and-answers.
Their suite of rooms is on the sixth floor, overlooking Lake Geneva, and the sounds of the lake are audible through the open doors of their small balcony. Nabokov does not like to talk off the cuff (or "Off the Nabocuff," as he said) no tape recorder was used. The interviewer was Nabokov's student at Cornell University in 1954, and the references are to Literature 311-312 (MWF, 12), a course on the Masterpieces of European Fiction (Jane Austen, Gogol, Dickens, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Stevenson, Kafka, Joyce, and Proust).
The question of the affinities I may think I have or not have with nineteenth-century Russian writers is a classificational, not a confessional matter.
There is hardly a single Russian major writer of the past whom pigeonholers have not mentioned in connection with me.
Those "historical examples" by the way are not as clear-cut and obvious as you seem to imply.
Moreover, the dividing line between prose and poetry in some of the greatest English or American novels is not easy to draw.
I suppose you should have used the term "rhymed poetry" in your question, and then one might answer that Russian rhymes are incomparably more attractive and more abundant than English ones.
No wonder a Russian prose writer frequents those beauties, especially in his youth.
Does this signal fact have anything to do with the special nature of Russian literary culture, or are there technical or linguistic resources which make this kind of versatility more possible in Russian?
And as a writer of both prose and poetry, what distinctions do you make between them?
As to the suppression of that chapter by the editors of Sovremennye Zapiski, it was indeed an unprecedented occurrence, quite out of keeping with their exceptional broad-mindedness, for, generally speaking, in their acceptance or rejection of literary works they were guided exclusively by artistic standards.