Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Quote: James Laughlin

Volodya [Vladimir Nabokov] is correct. Volya is my abbreviation of that. Of course, I never addressed his nobility as that, but that's the way I thought of him.

Volya was a doll in a very severe, upper-crust Russian way.

I wanted to be his friend, but he didn't want any jejune ninkapoop to be his friend. He wanted big brains such as [Edmund] Wilson and [Harry] Levin to be his friends. It was Levin who put me in touch with him. He had Vera write his terse little letters to me. He would force a smile for me sosometimes but it was a long-ways-away smile. The real smile was still on the flatcar that was transporting his grandfather's carriage and horses across Europe for the summer vacation at Biarritz. He declared that in his Gogol there were three pulls of my leg, but I've never been able to find them--and he wouldn't tell.
--James Laughlin, on Nabokov, in The Way It Wasn't (New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2007), p. 198.

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