Vladimir Nabokov: The Interviews
by Dieter E. Zimmer
(1994 – 2008)
THIS IS a list of all of Vladimir Nabokov's interviews collected by me over the past twenty years. As it is far from perfect and manifestly not complete, it so far has remained unpublished. Realizing, however, that by its very nature it can never be finished, I here make it available as it is to everyone interested. Complete sets of xeroxes, videotapes etc. of the more than one hundred interviews I ever had in my possession have been donated to the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library and to the Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg.
The 22 interviews Nabokov included in his Strong Opinions focussed on the American and British interviews in the years preceding the publication in 1973 – which is another way of saying that it excluded the many earlier and, of course, the few later interviews as well as most of the interviews given to newspapers, journals or the electronic media in other countries. All those uncollected interviews, however, contain a wealth of material that is of great biographical and theoretical interest.
It is certainly true that there is a great deal of redundancy in the interview corpus. It can hardly be blamed on Nabokov. Many interviewers came to see him with more or less the same premeditated questions in mind and were perfectly content to carry away more or less the same answers. In fact, that is exactly what they sought: They wanted the same "stark" statements the competition had, but worded differently. Except for the few instances where Nabokov was personally interested in explaining something, even if the interviewer had not asked for it, he was just complying with something that could not well be avoided and courteously giving the interviewer exactly what he was after. In spite of this large and somewhat tedious overlap, however, there is something new in almost every interview, even the most casual one.
That is why it seemed appropriate to draw up a complete list of them. Strong Opinions, Andrew Field's and Michael Juliar's bibliography used as their basis of reference the interview manuscripts as found in the Nabokov archive at the New York Public Library, Berg Collection. This list, while incorporating the material "at the Berg," uses as basis the interviews as they were published in the different media. In many instances, the published interviews differ in minor ways from Nabokov's notes for them; at least one is a completely different matter.
In case of the uncollected interviews, the list gives brief characterizations. For reasons of copyright I have to omit the quotes I had intended. However, I do quote Nabokov's written comments on the interviews if such could be found, if only to warn future researchers that Nabokov had reservations about the proposed or published interview.
By examination of all the interviews that became available to me in years of collecting (101 of a total of 123), it has in some cases been possible to collapse what had seemed several distinct interviews into one. On the other hand, there are a number of additions to the former lists by Field and Juliar, and there are corrections and expansions. Except for eight which have resisted all attempts to obtain copies of them, all the interviews listed have been examined by the bibliographer. I suspect there are several radio interviews (especially with Swiss Radio Corporation) that have vanished altogether.
I want to express my gratitude to Dmitri Nabokov who authorized me to work at the Berg Collection, to Michael Juliar who managed to find the texts of three interviews for me which I had already despaired of ever finding, to Brian Boyd who sent me the interview from Sports Illustrated which all the American libraries where I searched by some accident did not have, to curator Stephen Crook at the Berg Collection – and to countless anonymous archivarians and librarians of several countries who aided me in my search.
Vladimir Nabokov: Strong Opinions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973
Vladimir Nabokov: Eigensinnige Ansichten (ed. Dieter E. Zimmer). Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2004
Nabokov o Nabokove I prochem: intervyu, retsenzii, esse (ed. Nikolai Melnikov). Moscow: Izd. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 2002 (unauthorized edition)
Andrew Field: Nabokov: A Bibliography. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973
Michael Juliar: Vladimir Nabokov: A Descriptive Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1986, Updates 1988, 1991
Brian Boyd: Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991, pp. 747-748
The interviews are listed in chronological order. If the date when the interview was conducted or written down is known, it determines the place in the sequence; if not, the date of first publication or broadcast does.
P/I stands for "Profile/Interview". A profile in journalese is a concise biographical sketch. Its aim usually is to present the person behind the accomplishment. The run-of-the-mill profile is written from whatever material the journalist happens to have at his disposal, mostly from other such profiles published elsewhere. In more propitious cases, this material is supplemented by a personal interview. The main aim of such an interview is not to get answers to some urgent questions the interviewer has on his mind. Rather it is to collect personal impressions to build on, and incidentally to get some original quotes not published elsewhere. All the P/I assembled here are of this kind. Hence the ritualized character of these interviews that make them quite unlike any dialogue in real life. The P/I assembled here incorporate interviews to greatly varying degrees. Sometimes there is just an occasional brief remark from the interview, sometimes a lengthy interview is more or less completely dissolved into a profile. The other way to handle an interrogation of this sort in journalism is the plain interview, leaving the exchange as it had taken place, a sequence of questions and answers, and limiting the interviewer's contribution to an introduction, a concluding comment or an occasional footnote, as in Alfred Appel's long interview. There also are some border types. The interview with George Feifer is a sort of (rather hostile) profile independent of the interview, interrupted now and then to intersperse a question and an answer from their written exchange. The interview with Helga Chudacoff looks to the reader as if it were a plain Profile/Interview without a preceding interview; actually, some the quotations it uses were prepared in writing by Nabokov, and for the rest, Nabokov told the interviewer exactly where she should look for his answers in his published writings. The interview with Werner Helwig was an assembly of quotes collected elsewhere, some of them invented, and just pretending to be drawn from an interview.
SO: Strong Opinions, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973 (contains 22 interviews selected by Nabokov)
EA: Eigensinnige Ansichten, Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2004 (contains 16 further interviews, in German, selected by Dieter E. Zimmer)
Bold: radio and tv interviews
In chronological order
Sedykh, Andrey: "U V.V. Sirina" [On V.V. Sirin]. Poslednie novosti (Paris), 3-Nov-32, p.2
Article on Sirin on the occasion of a public reading in Paris with five short verbatim passages
All, Nikolay: "V.V. Sirin-Nabokov v Nyu Iorke chustvuet sebia 'svoim'" [V.V.Sirin-Nabokov feels 'at home' in New York]
Novoe ruskoe slovo (New York), 23-Jun-40, p.3
Article on Nabokov's arrival in the United States with a few verbatim passages, especially on first impressions of New York City
Kulakofsky, Beth: "Noted Novelist Confirms Sanctity of Russian-German Friendship". Wellesley College News (Wellesley, MA), 21-Mar-41, p.8
Article with several verbatim remarks on the political issues of the day
Reese, Katharine: "Alias V.Sirin". We (Wellesley, MA), Dec 1943, pp.5-7,32
Article on VN with several verbatim remarks from VN's lectures and conversations
Crane, Sylvia: "'Anything Makes a Story' Insists Mr.Nabokov." Wellesley College News (Wellesley, MA), 26-Apr-45, p.5
Brief article on Nabokov as a writer and university teacher by one of his students, with a few verbatim remarks from his classes and/or a conversation with him
Breit, Harvey: "Talk with Mr.Nabokov". The New York Times Book Review (New York), 1-Jul-51, p.17
Two columns on VN's life and writing, with some verbatim remarks, on the occasion of Conclusive Evidence
Shahovskoy, Nathalie: Radio interview for Voice of America (New York), 14-May-58. Published by Maxim Shrayer in Druzhba narodov (Moskau), no.11, 2000, pp.193-96
Anonymous: "'Lolita' Obscene? Not to Its Author"). New York Post (New York), 157 (221), 6-Aug-58, p.10
Brief article just before publication in America of Lolita, with a few brief verbatim remarks about the "scandal", obviously culled during a cocktail party at the Harvard Club
MacGregor, Martha: "The Author of 'Lolita': An Unhurried View". The New York Post Weekend Magazine (New York), 157b (230), 17-Aug-58, p.M10
Article on the occasion of the publication of Lolita in America, on this novel, its author's Russian background and personality, with some quotes from Speak, Memory and a few improvised verbatim remarks on the usual topics, with sallies at Sartre, Freud and Schweitzer
Kessler, Gladys: "Author of 'Lolita' Airs Views on Censorship, Role of Artist" (Juliar H8&1). Cornell Daily Sun (Ithaca, NY), 25-Sep-58
Anonymous: "Ithaca und ‚Lolita'". Newsweek (New York), 24-Nov-58, pp.114-115
Burton, Pierre / Lionel Trilling: Tv interview, filmed 26-Nov-58 at The Rockefeller Center studios in New York City. CBC Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Ottawa)
Nabokov's first tv interview. The subject was Lolita, covering some of the questions addressed in Nabokov's 1958 afterword. Most answers were read from index cards.
Van Dyne, Edward E.: "What Hath 'Lolita' Wrought? Ithaca Author Distressed by Some Reactions". Elmira Telegram (Elmira, NY), 14-Dec-58
?Niagara Falls Gazette, 11-Jan-59
Segal, Lee: "Under Cover". The Louisville Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), 25-Jan-59, Section 4, p.7
Editorial with a few verbatim quotes from an interview with Nabokov by Arthur Turley of Associated Press on Lolita and Pasternak.
Nordstrom, Alan: "My Child Lolita". Ivy (New Haven, CT), Feb 1959, p.28
Short P/I with various brief verbatim comments, mainly on the art of writing
O'Neil, Paul: "'Lolita' and the Lepidoperist: Author Nabokov Is Awed by Sensation He Created"). Life International (Chicago, IL), 13-Apr-59, pp.63-69
George, Manfred: "Wer ist der Lolita-Autor? – Ein Interview mit Vladimir Nabokov." [Who is the author of Lolita? An interview with Vladimir Nabokov] Die Zeit (Hamburg), 17-Apr-59, p.6
Short article by a New York Aufbau contributor about a visit with the Nabokovs in their New York hotel, with four verbatim Q&A, mainly on German and American literature
?Anonymous: "'Lolita' Strewn Across Nation, Author Reveals". Los Angeles Mirror News (Los Angeles, CA), 31-Jul-59
Boyle, Robert: "An Absence of Wood Nymphs". Sports Illustrated (Chicago, IL), 14-Sep-59, pp.E5‑E8
In August, 1959, Boyle accompanied Nabokov for two days of butterfly hunting in the Oak Creek Canyon. The intention was to collect "Nabokov's Wood Nymph," the satyrid Cyllopsis pertepida dorothea Nabokov, 1942, but it did not show up, nor did much else. "I apologize for the butterflies." The article is a most vivid account of this disappointing field trip, with many improvised verbatim remarks from Nabokov. Boyd (AY, p.383) called the piece "perhaps our finest moment-by-moment image of Nabokov the man." A slightly expanded version of it was reprinted in Robert H. Boyle, At the Top of Their Game, Piscataway, NJ: Winchester Press, 1983, pp.123-133.
Hickey, Neil: "The Author of 'Lolita'" ["Lolitas" Autor]. The American Weekly (New York), 4-Oct-59, pp. 12-13
The American Weekly was the Sunday magazine supplement of several American dailies, including Washington Post, New York Journal & American, San Francisco Examiner.
Dumayet, Pierre: "Lectures pour tous" (name of the series). RTF Radiodiffusion télévision française, 21-oct-1959, 8;59 min
Streamed Internet video www.ina.fr/video/100016162
Black-and-white television interview, in French, on Lolita, corresponding to "On a Book Entitled Lolita"
"Mme Nabokov: 'Mon mari n'a jamais connu Lolita.'" Paris-Presse L'Intransigeant (Paris), 22-Oct-59, p.2E
The name of the paper changed to France-Soir in 1970. Though listed under Nabokov's interviews, this actually is one with Véra Nabokov, consisting of twelve Q&A on the Lolita "scandal."
Delpech, Jeanine: "Nabokov sans Lolita." Nouvelles littéraires (Paris), no. 1768, 29-Oct-59, pp.1,2
?Pryce-Jones, Alan: Tv interview for ITV (London), "Bookman", filmed or broadcast 29-Oct-59
?Daily Sketch (London), 30-Oct-59
Wain, John: "Small World of Vladimir Nabokov". The Observer (London), 1-Nov-59, p.21
P/I with a few remarks from a conversation (dated London, Oct 30, 1959), probably improvised
Anonymous: "Tandis que Lolita fait le tour du monde l'entomologiste Nabokov, l'agronome Robbe-Grillet échangent leurs pions sur l'échiquier littéraire" [While Lolita is traveling around the world, the entomologist Nabokov and the agronomist Robbe-Grillet exchange their pawns on the literary chessboard] and J.-F. Bergery: "Nabokov: Je n'ai plus besoin de gagner ma vie" [Nabokov: I don't have to earn my living any more]. Arts ‑ Lettres, Spectacles (Paris), 746, Oct 28 ‑ 3-Nov-59, p4
Short introduction, 18 improvised and recorded Q&A; article by Bergery with a few improvised verbatim remarks
Duvignaud, Jean: "Nabokov : 'Quand j'écris je m'invente moi-même'". Les lettres nouvelles (Paris), 7 (28), 4-Nov-59, p.24-25
Holmes, David: Radio interview for BBC (London), date of recording or broadcast? 5-Nov-59
Berg Collection m.b.#930605, typescript (transcription from telephone interview), 5 pages, dated 5-Nov-59
27 Q&A improvised on the phone, mostly on Lolita
Guérin, Anne: "Le bon M. Nabokov." L'Express (Paris), 5-Nov-59, p.32-33. Excerpts reprinted, in German, in Die Zeit (Hamburg), 13-Nov-59
?Evening Standard (London), 6-Nov-59
Coleman, John: "Nabokov". The Spectator (London), 6854, 6-Nov-59, p.619
P/I with various, probably improvised remarks from a conversation, dated London, Oct 1959
?Time & Tide (London?), Nov. 14, 1959
Hayman, John G.: A Conversation with Vladimir Nabokov – with Digressions". The Twentieth Century (London), 166 (994), Dec 1959, pp.444-450
P/I with occasional brief remarks from a conversation
Lawrenson, Helen: "The Man Who Scandalized the World". Esquire (Chicago, IL), 54 (2), Aug 1960, pp.70-73
Nabokov to Rust Hills of Esquire on Feb 11, 1961: "... some absurd misstatements... None of these blunders was inevitable: all you had to do was send me your article to check the factual points before publishing it." Letter published in Esquire, June 1961
?Interviewer unknown: Interview for Epoch (Los Angeles, CA)
Neither the published interview nor VN's typescript have been found; as a matter of fact, it has not been possible to track the magazine.
Jerko Tognola: Radio interview for Société Suisse de Radio- et Télédiffusion (SSR) / Radio Suisse Romande (RSR), Lausanne, in French, broadcast on Nov 11, 1960, 3;45 minutes
Anonymous: "In London vor der Kamera: Das 'anstößigste' Roman-Kind dieses Jahrhunderts: Lolita" [In front of the movie camera in London: This century's most "offensive" novel child: Lolita]. Neue Illustrierte (Köln), 24-Jan-61, pp. 10-12
Article on Lolita after a visit with the author in Nice, with three Q&A
Guérin, Anne: "Entretien: Vladimir Nabokov" [Conversation: Vladimir Nabokov]. L'Express (Paris), 8, 26-Jan-61, pp.26-27
Colombo, Janine: "Si Nabocov [sic!] vient en Israel ce sera à cause des papillons de Jérusalem" [If Nabokov comes to Israel, it will be for the butterflies of Jerusalem]. L'Information d'Israel (Paris), 11 (9), 3-Feb-61, p.6
Improvised chit-chat with VN in his Nice apartment, on butterfly hunting, the Lolita movie e.a. Does he have any ties with Israel? "Many good and dear friends; for this reason Israel is about the only country where I would like to give a talk."
Svet, Gershon: "Vstrecha s avtorom 'Lolity'" [A meeting with the author of "Lolita"]. Novoe Ruskoe Slovo (New York), no. 17499, 5-Feb-61, p.8
?Daziano, Gilles J.: Tv interview. Télé-Monte Carlo (Monaco), Feb 28, 1961
Antonini, Giacomo: "Vladimir Nabokov." Fiera Letteraria (Rome), 5-Mar-61, p.3
In a letter to Stanley Kubrick (1961, Berg Collection), Nabokov mentions that an interview preceded this piece which, however, contains no verbatim quotes.
Bernard Laurent: Radio interview for Société Suisse de Radiodiffusion (SSR) / Radio Suisse Romande (RSR), broadcast 31-Mar-61, in French
On the audicity of Lolita. "La matière est le style."
Macrae, Rosalie: "Nabokov, butterflies, and the Cote d`Azur". Daily Express (London), 8-Apr-61, p.6
Brief article with c. 20 improvised verbatim remarks
Mercadié, Claude: "Sur la Promenade des Anglais Vladimir Nabokov le père de 'Lolita' a planté sa tente de nomade" [Vladimir Nabokov, the father of 'Lolita,' has put up his nomad tent on the Promenade des Anglais]. Nice-Matin (Nice), 13-Apr-61, p.5
Article with c. 10 improvised verbatim remarks
Benichou, Pierre: "Scène d'humour parisien au bord de lac Léman: Quand le parrain de B.B. parle de Proust au père de Lolita" [Scene of Parisian humour on the shores of Lake Geneva: When the godfather of B.B. speaks about Proust with the father of Lolita]. Le Nouveau Candide (Paris), 23-30-Nov-61
Article on a visit of movie producer Raoul Lévy to Montreux where he wanted to find out whether Nabokov would write the screenplay for Proust's Un Amour de Swann; the conversation between Nabokov and Lévy which Benichou witnessed is rendered in a way to ridicule Nabokov for his anti-Soviet attitude and his refusal to talk business. Nabokov in an interview on 5-Jun-62 (SO/1): "Recently the Paris paper Candide had me spout wild nonsense in an idiotic setting."
Meras, Phyllis: "V. Nabokov Unresting". Providence Sunday Journal (Providence, RI), 13-May-62
Juliar H27 -> H26&2
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 11 pages, dated 13-May-62
Anonymous: Interview with three or four journalists on the arrival of the "Queen Elizabeth", New York, Jun 5, 1962. Either it was recorded by Nabokov from memory right afterwards, or he had prepared some Q&A in writing beforehand and handed them to the interviewers. 2 sentences, one of them verbatim, that must have been said on this occasion, but do not occur in the text recorded by Nabokov, in: Anonymous: "In and Out of Books: Interview", The New York Times Book Review (New York), Jun 24, 1962, p. 8. Longer passages used in: "Lolita's Creator Author Nabokov, a "Cosmic Joker"". Newsweek (New York), 59 (26), Jun 254, 1962, pp. 51–54 – title story with verbatim quotes on the occasion of the Lolita movie and publication of Pale Fire
Juliar H28 (NYT)
Juliar H29 (Newsweek)
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 6 pages
Dolbier, Maurice: "Books and Authors: Nabokov's Plums". New York: The New York Herald Tribune (American Edition, New York), 17-Jun-62, p.5
Article on Pale Fire, with three longer quotes about this novel and about Soviet Russians and America
Anonymous: "After a Series of Improbabilities ... Meet Mr.Nabokov, Author of 'Lolita'". The Islander, Supplement to The Daily Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia), 15-Jul-62
Smith, Peter Duval (and Christopher Burstall): "Half an Hour with Nabokov." Tv interview filmed at Zermatt, middle of July, 1962 for BBC (London), "Bookstand," broadcast 4-Nov-62. Printed under the title "Vladimir Nabokov on his life and work" in The Listener (London), 68 (1756), 22-Nov-62, pp. 856–858. Reprinted under the title "What Vladimir Nabokov thinks of his work, his life" in Vogue (New York), 1-Mar-63, pp. 152–155.
The introduction shows Nabokov hunting butterflies in the vicinity of Zermatt; there are flocks of ringlets, one of which he takes with tweezers. Half of the interview has the Matterhorn in full splendor as backdrop, the other half was filmed in Nabokov's hotel room. Nabokov is unusually relaxed and seems to improvise some of his answers.
Bronowski, Jacob: Intended radio interview for a London program, probably never published
Berg Collection m.b.#930590, typescript, 15 pages, incomplete, dated 16-Aug-63
15 Q&A on Lolita, the Lolita movie, science and art. First set of questions from Geoffrey Hughes.
Blanc, Pierette: "Vladimir Nabokov, auteur de 'Lolita': 'Je ne connais pas une seule petite fille'" [Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita: "I don't know a single little girl"]. Tribune de Lausanne – Dimanche (Lausanne), no.244, 1-Sep-63, p.11
P/I based on a conversation conducted in a Swiss alpine village, with a few improvised remarks mainly on butterflies and Lolita. Q: Comment trouvez-vous la Suisse? A: "C'est parfait, mais je n'aime pas les vaches. Elles éloignent les papillons."
Toffler, Alvin: "Playboy Interview: Vladimir Nabokov". Playboy (Chicago, IL), 11 (1), Jan 1964, pp.35-41, 44-45
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 43 pages, dated Montreux, 17-Mar-63
Jaton, Henri: Radio interview for Radio Suisse Romande (Lausanne)
Berg Collection #930610, typescript, 8 pages, in French, dated 5-Oct-63
Nine lengthy Q&A
mv: "L'Écrivain Vladimir Nabokov aime Montreux et adore les papillons" [The writer Vladimir Nabokov likes Montreux and adors butterflies]. Journal de Montreux (Montreux), 23-Jan-1964, pp.1, 2
Brief article with six Q&A
Davis, Douglas M.: "On the Banks of Lake Leman: Mr. Nabokov Reflects on 'Lolita' and 'Onegin'". The National Observer (Silver Springs, MD), 29-Jun-64, p.17
Howard, Jane: "The Master of Versatility: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita, Languages, Lepidoptera." Life International (Chicago, IL), 57 (21), 20-Nov-64, pp.61-62, 64,66,68
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 7 pages, dated Montreux, Sep 1964
Nabokov to Howard on 5-Oct-64, about the interview notes she had sent him: "Much of what I said was idle talk, mainly and lamely meant to entertain you and [photographer] Mr.Grossman in between business ... Several things that I said, and that you took down, are quite unfit for publication. I cannot discuss my obesity in public. I do not want to embarrass a heroic, and now ailing, cosmonaut by recalling a fishy television program. I find it unseemly to speak of my pedigree or of the butterflies bearing my name. I cannot be made to criticize contemporary writers. I have sufficiently worried poor Zhivago. The Gogol bit has already appeared in my book on Gogol, and the Tolstoy bit, referring to his having been infected by a complaisant Swiss chambermaid, should not be mentioned in this kind of discussion. My remarks about British vulgarity are also not for print in this form. And I would rather not mention the odious Fact at all. Finally, the history of Lolita has been aired many times and is old hat ..."
Belleval, Guy de: "Buvant de xérès chez monsieur Nabokov" [Having a sherry with Mr. Nabokov]. Journal de Genève (Genève), no. 60, 13-14-Mar-65, p.IV
Introduction, 13 brief Q&A
Hughes, Robert: "USA: The Novel: Vladimir Nabokov." Tv interview for NET National Educational Television (New York), date of broadcast 3-Feb-65 (29 minutes). Excerpts under the title "Why Nabokov Detests Freud" in The New York Times (New York), 30-Jan-66, Section 2, p.17
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 35 index cards, dated Sep 1965. Final version, 13 pages, dated 3-Jan-66
The actual tv interview as broadcast by NET is completely different from the version that Nabokov published in Strong Opinions. It appears that he had prepared index cards for the occasion as he was wont to do. These he read to the interviewer on the first day. But the crew stayed on and filmed him during at least one more day, without the support of any index cards. In the film, they used only this offhand material; in Strong Opinions, Nabokov used only his text from the index cards.
Ackerman, Gordon: "Nabokov and the innocent European". Weekly Tribune (Genève), 9 (4), 28-Jan-66, p.12
P/I with a few verbatim remarks from a conversation in Montreux, January 1966
Hughes, Robert: "Why Nabokov Detests Freud." Excerpts from NET/Channel 13 interview of the same day. New York Times, 30-Jan-66, Section 2, p.17
Schröder-Jahn, Jürgen and Gebhard Rahn: Tv interview filmed in June, 1966, in the gardens of 'Grand Hotel Excelsior,' Chianciano Terme (Siena), Italy, for use in a program entitled "Russen ohne Russland: Die Rolle der Emigranten im Kulturleben Westeuropas" (Russians without Russia: The part of the émigrés in the cultural life of western Europe), produced by Peter von Zahn Productions for ZDF Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (Mainz), date of broadcast 1966 (c. 3+1 minutes).
Ongaro, Alberto: "L'Amore Oggi: Visto dall'autore di Lolita" [Love today: How the author of Lolita sees it]. L'Europeo (Milano), 23-Jun-66, pp.28-33
Short introduction, lengthy questions and arguments, 12 verbatim answers, all on the topic of "love in the modern world", trying hard to recruit the author of Lolita for the supposedly ongoing sexual revolution, without success. In an article written twenty years later ("E Nabokov mi lasciò un biglietto", La Stampa [Torino], May 16, 1987), Ongaro recalled how this interview came about and where it was conducted (in the garden of a hotel at Chianciano where Nabokov was staying at that time, collecting butterflies). He also gives the full text of a page Nabokov had prepared between the interviewer's phone call and their meeting. Its three paragraphs insist on Nabokov's distrust in the very idea of epochs and claim that his own epoch did not influence Lolita in any way; parts of this written texty' Ongaro used in his 1966 piece.
Tappe, Horst: "Schmetterlinge und Lolita: Gespräch mit Vladimir Nabokov." Die Welt (Hamburg), 25-Aug-66
Eight brief Q&A, in German
Gold, Herbert (and George A. Plimpton): "Vladimir Nabokov: An Interview". The Paris Review (Paris), 41, Summer/Autumn 1967, pp.92-111
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 19 pages, dated 11-Sep-66, additional Qs from Plimpton, typescript, 7 pages, dated Jun 26, 1967
Garian, Pat: "Nabokov". Harper's Bazaar Deutsche Ausgabe (St.Gallen), 3, März 1967, pp.42-43
Two-column article about a visit in Nabokov's Montreux suite, with c. 13 brief verbatim Q&A on diverse topics, apparently improvised, in German
Gold, Herbert: "The Artist in Pursuit of Butterflies" (Montreux, September 11, 1966 ff.) . Saturday Evening Post (Philadelphia, PA), 240 (3), 11-Feb-67, pp.81-85
Nabokov to Saturday Evening Post on 21-Jan-67: "... embarrassing inaccuracies...". Is based on the same conversations during a two weeks' stay in Montreux as the preceding interview in The Paris Review
Gilliatt, Penelope: "Nabokov". Vogue (New York), 148 (10), Dec 1966, pp.224-229, 279-281
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 17 pages, undated (must be before 13-Sep-66), with addenda
Article based on written answers and conversations. Nabokov to Allene Talmey of Vogue on 29-Nov-66: "... I strongly objected to the beginning which looked remarkably tasteless in print as well as to the entire Pasternak bit which was off-key in matters of literary detail ('scarf' should have been 'shawl', etc.), and moreover happened to impinge on some other work of mine."
Appel, Alfred, Jr.: "An Interview with Vladimir Nabokov" (conducted Sep 25-29, 1966). Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature (Madison, WI), 8 (2), Spring 1967, pp.127-152
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, dated 25-Sep-66, 29 pages, with letter to Alfred Appel
Zimmer, Dieter E.: Tv interview, filmed 5-Oct-66 in Montreux, for Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Hamburg), 3rd Program, "Aus Kunst und Wissenschaft," date of broadcast 21-Oct-66 (24 minutes). Printed under the title "Despot in meiner Welt" [A despot in my own world] in Die Zeit (Hamburg), 44, 28-Oct-66, pp.19-20
Berg Collection m.b., holograph answers, 24 index cards, dated 5-Oct-66, and addenda
29 Q&A, with new statements about VN's attitude towards Germany
Dommergues, Pierre: "Vladimir Nabokov: Échec au réel." Le Monde (Paris), no. 7110, 2-Nov-67, p.iv-v. Longer version : "Notes et Documents: Entretien avec Vladimir Nabokov" [Notes and documents: Conversation with Vladimir Nabokov]. les langues modernes (Paris), 62 (1), Jan-Feb 1968, pp.92-102
Juliar H44 (Monde) and H45 (langues modernes)
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 29 pages, dated 7-Sep-67
About 25 extensive Q&A. Not everything that is in Nabokov's typescript is in the printed interviews, and long passages of both printed interviews are not in the typescript. The Monde version summarizes parts of the verbatim interview and adds material from elsewhere, especially from Speak, Memory, Lolita and the Herbert Gold interview (1967). The langues modernes version adds substantial material that seems to stem from a conversation Dommergues had with Nabokov and Véra in the lobby of the Montreux Palace on 7-Sep-67.
Arsenijevic, Drago: "Vladimir Nabokov n'aime pas qu'on l'appelle 'le père de Lolita'" [Vladimir Nabokov does not like to be called 'the father of Lolita']. La Tribune de Genève (Genève), Section Arts-Tribune-Jeunes, no. 250, 25-Oct-67, p.I
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 4 pages, dated Montreux, 23-Sep-67
Article with seven lengthy verbatim passages, e.g. about life in Montreux
Esslin, Martin: "Nabokov on Nabokov and Things". The New York Times Book Review (New York), 12-May-68, pp.4,50-51
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 8 pages, dated 17-Feb-68
Véra Nabokov to Martin Esslin on 28-Feb-68, asking for five changes in the manuscript of the interview
Garnham, Nicholas: Radio interview for BBC-2, "Release". Printed in: The Listener (London), 80 (2063), 10-Oct-68, pp. 463-464, under the title "The Strong Opinions of Vladimir Nabokov ‑ as imparted to Nicholas Garnham"
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 26 index cards, dated 3-Sep-68 (with addenda)
Helwig, Werner: "Visite bei Vladimir Nabokov: Der 'Lolita'-Autor wurde 70 Jahre alt" [Visit with Vladimir Nabokov: The author of 'Lolita' turned 70]. Die Presse (Wien), 25-Apr-69
Article teeming with mistakes and without verbatim quotes, but maintaining to be based on a conversation with Nabokov that took place in Montreux. Nabokov to the editor-in-chief on 30-Apr-69: "I would like to make it clear that Herr Helwig did not visit me, although he claims to have done so. His 'Interview' consists of sentences which he took from other, genuine interviews, from a number of his own inventions, and from three lines that my wife sent him in my behalf on the 28th of March 1969. These three lines had to do with Conrad, Gide and Mann and were in answer to the long and confused questionnaire that Herr Helwig had sent me and which I did not answer beyond that. I refused to enter into correspondence with Herr Helwig, and certainly never granted him an interview." Published by Die Presse on 23-May-69, with regrets ‑ but not because of the forgery, but only because of the "differences of opinion that have arisen between Vladimir Nabokov and Werner Helwig."
Duffy, Martha (and R.Z. Sheppard): "'I Have Never Seen a More Lucid, More Lonely, Better Balanced Mad Mind Than Mine'". Time (Atlantic Edition, New York), 23-May-69, pp.50-51
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 8+10 pages, dated 15-Mar-69
Whitman, Alden: "Nabokov, Nearing 70, Describes His ‚New Girl'". The New York Times (New York), 19-Apr-69, p.20
SO/11 (revised version)
Berg Collection m.b.#930633, typescript, 7 pages, dated Montreux, Apr 1969
?"How Writers Abroad Look at Japan and Japanese". Umi (Tokyo), 1 (1), 1-Jun-69, p.10
Oakes, Philip: "Philip Oakes Talks to Vladimir Nabokov: Author as Joker". The Sunday Times (London), 22-Jun-69, pp.51-52
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 7 pages, dated Montreux, 15-Jun-69, and addenda
Article with nine Q&A interspersed. Nabokov in a telegram to Philip Oakes, 18-Jun-69: "... I emphatically refuse to have the Pound item excised."
Talmey, Allene: "Vladimir Nabokov Talks about Nabokov". Vogue (New York), Dec 1969, pp.190-191
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 6 pages, dated Adelboden, Aug 1969
Mossman, James: Tv interview for BBC-2 (London), "Review". Printed under the title "To Be Kind, To Be Proud, To be Fearless ‑ Vladimir Nabokov in conversation with James Mossman" in: The Listener (London), 82 (2117), 23-Oct-69, pp.560-561. Brief excerpts in BBC documentary by Christopher Sykes, 1989
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 20 pages, dated Montreux, 1-Sep-69
Tumiati, Gaetano: "Signor Nabokov, un'altra Lolita?" [Mr.N, Another Lolita?"]. La Stampa (Torino), 30-Oct-69, p.3
Berg Collection m.b.#930632, typescript, 2 pages, in French, undated
Q: Il senso de perfetta armonia ... com si concilia... con la pignoleria scientifica...? A: "Je ne comprends pas comment on peut qualifier de pédanterie la connaissance des objets naturels ou le vocabulaire de la nature." (The quote is not included in the printed interview.)
Gorlier, Claudio: "La scherma di Nabokov" [N's art of fencing]. Corriere della Sera (Rome), 30-Oct-69
Berg Collection m.b.#930604, typescript, 2 pages, dated 30-Oct-69
Costantini, Costanzo: "Per Nabokov non esiste crisi del romanzo" [For N, there is no crisis of th novel". Il Messagero (Roma), 2-Nov-69, p.3
Berg Collection m.b.#930594, typescript, 2 pages, undated
Ten Q&A, the latter brief
Salvalaggio, Nantas: Interview for Il Giorno (Milano). The publication date given by Field ("Nov 3, 1969") is certainly wrong. There is no Il Giorno of Nov 3, 1969, nor has the interview been published in the issues of the adjoining weeks
Berg Collection m.b.# typescript, 1 page, undated
Tabozzi, Roberto: "Lo Zar Nabokov" [Tsar Nabokov]. Panorama (Milano), 8 (186), 6-Nov-69, pp.50-56
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 4 pages, dated 16-Oct-69
Article on N's life and his life at the Montreux Palace, with a few verbatim remarks interspersed. What writers have influenced him? "Fedor Godunov, Sebastian Knight, Adam Krug, John Shade and Van Veen."
James Mossman: "'Genius' Label Overworked." Excerpts from the tv interview by Walter Mossman, filmed in Sep 1969. Victoria Times (British Columbia, Canada), 2-Dec-1969, p.5
Berg Collection m.b.#930591, typescript, 1 page, undated (1969)
This is not an interview intended for publication but six very brief Q&A in reply to a letter from Bulgherini, lecturer in American literature in Catania
Riklin, Hanspeter: Interview for "Swiss newspapers"
Berg Collection m.b.#930623, typescript, 3 pages, in French, dated 5-Jan-70
Beretzky, Nurit: Interview for Ma'ariv (Tel Aviv), 19(13?)-Jan-70
Berg Collection m.b.930589, typescript, 2 pages, dated Jan 5, 1970.
13 brief Q&A
Whitman, Alden: "Nabokov, Near 71, Gets Gift for 70th". New York: The New York Times (New York), 18-Mar-70, p.40
Field, Andrew: [Answers to written questions]
Berg Collection m.b.#930599, typescript, 10 pages, dated 12-Jun-70
This actually is not an interview intended for publication but a reply to 47 questions posed by Field for his VN biography, most of them pertaining to VN's Russian past and very specific in detail.
Givan, Christopher: "Cocktails With Nabokov: 'The Thing Is to Avoid the Cliche of Your Time'". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), 7-Aug-77, pp.IV/1-2 (Montreux, Sommer 1970)
Appel, Alfred, Jr.: "Conversations with Nabokov". Novel: A Forum on Fiction (Providence, RI), 4 (3), Spring 1971, pp. 209-222
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, dated Montreux, Aug, 1970, 27+ pages
Levy, Alan: "Understanding Vladimir Nabokov – A Red Autumn Leaf Is a Red Autumn Leaf, Not a Deflowered Nymphet". The New York Times Magazine (New York), 31-Oct-71, pp.20-22,24,28,30,32,36,38,40-41
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 5 pages, dated Apr 1971
Véra Nabokov to Benjamin P. Lamberton on 5-Nov-71: "... my husband is so angry and disgusted with the Levy article in the N.Y.Times Magazine that he asks me to make it quite clear to anyone who might ask that, among other things, the bits about his sister, our life in Montreux, are false and vulgar. Although he does not consider Solshenitsyn a great writer, he would never have 'cackled' over the misfortunes of that heroic man, as Mr. Levy insinuates." VN in SO/21: "I am giving this meticulous description to refute a distortion in an interview published recently in another New York magazine ‑ a long piece with embarrassing misquotations, wrong intonations, and false exchanges in the course of which I am made to dismiss the scholarship of a dear friend as 'pedantry' and to poke ambiguous fun at a manly writer's tragic fate."
Whitman, Alden: "Vladimir Nabokov, 72 Today, Writing a new Novel". The New York Times (New York), 23-Apr-71, p.16
Berg Collection m.b.#930634, typescript, 3 pages, dated 5-Apr-71
Shenker, Israel: "The Old Magician at Home". The New York Times Book Review (New York), 9-Jan-72, p. 2. Reprinted in: Israel Shenker: Words and Their Masters. Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1974
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 2 pages, dated Montreux, 10-Jun-71
Eleven brief Q&A. Nabokov to Israel Shenker on Feb 23, 1973: "The rest of the Old Magician piece contained certain inaccuracies and chit-chat items that rather upset me at the time."
Parker, Stephen Jan: "Vladimir Nabokov and the Short Story". Russian Literature Triquarterly (Ann Arbor, MI), 24, 1991, pp.68-72
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 2+4 pages, dated Montreux, 22-Oct-71
Introduction with a list of Nabokov short stories, 15 Q&A, all on the short story
Appel, Alfred, Jr.: "Nabokov: A Portrait". The Atlantic Monthly (Boston), 228 (3), Sep 1971, pp. 77-79,83-85,91-92
Article focussing on VN's years in America, with quotations from Appel's two former interviews (Juliar H41 und H55).
Sufrin, Paul: Radio interview for Swiss Broadcast, European & Overseas Service
SO/18 (revision and excerpts: nine Q&A)
Berg Collection m.b.#930628, typescript, 4 pages, in English, dated 8-Sep-71
Hoffman, Kurt / Jochen Richter: "Vom Gewebe der Zeit: Vladimir Nabokov erzählt" [On the texture of time: Vladimir Nabokov speaks up]. Tv interview, filmed at Montreux in Sep/Oct 1971. Bayerischer Rundfunk (München), Bayern III (coproduced with BBC, CBC, ORF, RM Produktion and Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft), date of broadcast 26-May-72 and 7-Jul-77 (c. 60 minutes)
SO/19 (minus the Q)
Morini, Simona: "Nabokov: Vladimir Nabokov Talks about His Travels". Vogue (New York), 159 (8), 15-Apr-72, pp.74-79
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 13 pages, dated Montreux, 3-Feb-72, and addenda
Eleven Q&A on the subject of traveling
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, incomplete, dated Montreux, Oct-72
Six Q&A, mostly on Pasternak.
Goldschlager, Seth: Interview for Newsweek, unpublished
Berg Collection m.b.#930603, typescript, 4 pages, dated Montreux, 6-Nov-72
13 Q&As, five of them on Transparent Things
Berg Collection m.b.#930635, typescript, 3 pages, dated 18-Dec-72
This actually was another (the fourth) VN interview conducted in writing by Alden Whitman for The New York Times, consisting of six Q&A. From the enclosed correspondence it becomes clear that Whitman had problems getting the NYT to publish it. Among other things, they seem to have objected to VN's practice of reserving the copyright to himself.
Jannoud, Claude: "Vladimir Nabokov, le plus américain des écrivains russes" [Vladimir Nabokov, the most American among Russian writers]. Le Figaro littéraire (Paris), 13-Jan-73, p. I (13), IV (16). Reprinted in Novoe Ruskoe Slovo (NewYork), 09-Feb-73
Berg Collection m.b., 7 pages, dated 28-Nov-72
Introduction and eleven Q&A
Laanso, Mati: "An Interview with Vladimir Nabokov for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation". Radio interview, recorded 20-Mar-73. CBC Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Ottawa), date of broadcast 29-Jan-74. Printed in Lawrence, KS: The Vladimir Nabokov Research Newsletter, 10, Spring 1983, pp. 39-48
Juliar H75 -> H63&1
Berg Collection m.b., holograph, 25 index cards, dated Montreux, 20-Mar-73
Ten extensive Q&A
Cantini, Roberto: "Incontro in tre tempi con l'autore di 'Lolita' ‑ Nabokov Tra i Cigni de Montreux" [Meeting at three times with the author of 'Lolita' ‑ Nabokov among the swans of Montreux]. Epoca (Milano), 24 (1201), 07-Oct-1973, pp. 104-108,110,112
Article on VN and the interviewer's visit in Montreux, sandwiching 14 Q&A of the shorter kind. What does he think of the welfare society? "Nothing." Is 'Lolita'to be read as a tormented symbol of mass society and of a certain hunger for life that characterizes it? "No." What are his favorite characters? "Lolita, Pnin, and the father of the hero of The Gift ‑ in this order."
Chudacoff, Helga: "Schmetterlinge sind wie Menschen" [Butterflies are like people]. Die Welt (Hamburg), 26-Sep-74, p.III
Berg Collection m.b.#930592, typescripts dated 17-Apr-74 and Oct-74, 12 pages
22 Q&A, most answers being only page references to Strong Opinions, with very brief additions. Draft of Chudacoff's article with VN's corrections.
Feifer, George. (A) "Nabokov." The Sunday Telegraph/Telegraph Sunday Magazine (London), 10, 14-Nov-76, p.40-46. (B) "Vladimir Nabokov: An Interview." Saturday Review (New York), 4 (5), 27-Nov-76, pp.20-26
EA (only Q&A, without the surrounding article)
Berg Collection m.b.#930598, typescript, 6 pages, dated 25-Aug-74 (with addenda)
Twelve Q&A; typescript of Feifer's article which intersperses the twelve Q&A, with Nabokov's changes and correspondence.
In his article, Feifer says he had never "warmed to" Nabokov's works and during his visit to Montreux found it impossible to relate to him, judging him arrogant, vain, smug, aloof, cantankerous, "nihilistic," dreading the interview and feeling humiliated by it.
VN on 13-Nov-74, returning Feifer's manuscript to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph: "... several crucial corrections and deletions ... rather upsetting... prepared dialogue extremely disappointing ... passages that are absolutely intolerable to the interviewee ... [owing to the] interviewer's complete ignorance of this author's type of mind and manner." Nabokov made no attempt to suppress or soften Feifer's hostile or frankly insulting comments but insisted on correcting three factual mistakes (that he was "hard of hearing" ["nonsens, my hearing is overacute"], that Véra was his typist and editor ["has not typed for me since 1960 and has not edited anything"] or that he called critics "swine" ["did not use that epithet"]). Also, he insisted on scrapping three touchy musings on his attitude towards Strawinsky, Solshenitsyn and his anonymous first biographer (Andrew Field) with whom he had been quarreling for years.
The Sunday Telegraph heeded Nabokov's deletions and corrections, the Saturday Review did not and published Feifer's manuscript as it had been written.
Zimmer, Dieter E.: Tv interview, filmed 29-Sep-74, for Hessischer Rundfunk (Frankfurt), "Titel, Thesen, Temperamente", date of broadcast 03-Oct-74 (c. 10 minutes)
Berg Collection m.b., 11 index cards, dated Sep 1974, and addenda
Six brief Q&A on Ada
Clarke, Gerald: "Checking in with Vladimir Nabokov". Esquire (Chicago, IL), 84 (1), July 1975, pp.67–69,131,133
Berg Collection m.b.#930593, typescript, 4 pages, dated 17-Sep-74
Zeindler, Peter (author) / Safarik, Bernhard (director): "Interview mit Nabokov" [Interview with Nabokov]. Tv interview for Schweizer Fernsehen (Zürich), "Perspektiven 58: Russen in der Schweiz" Perspectives 58: Russians in Switzerland], date of broadcast 10-Oct-74 (6 minutes) [Program on Alexander Solshenitsyn, Viktor Nekrasov, Vladimir Nabokov]
Berg Collection m.b.#930625, holograph draft of answers, ten index cards, undated
Ten Q&A of middle lengths on diverse topics, stressing Switzerland
Wlassics, Tibor: Interview (to be?) published in Tibor Wlassics: Vladimir Nabokov, Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1975
Berg Collection m.b.#930636, typescript, 2 pages, latest exchange about it dated 27-Dec-74
Six brief A to nine Q from what seems to have been a distant acquaintance, a professor of Hungarian origin living in Rapallo and planning a book on Nabokov
Jacot, Monique (author; Swiss photographer, born 1934) / Michel Soutter (director): Tv interview for Radio-Télévision Suisse Romande (Genève), "La Voix au Chapitre: Les Ecrivains de Monique Jacot", date of broadcast 03-Feb-75 (c. 26 minutes – 7 min 30 sec uncut material)
Salter, James: "An Old Magician Named Nabokov Writes and Lives in Splendid Exile" (Conducted in Montreux, winter of 1975). People Weekly (New York), 17-Mar-75, pp. 60-64
P/I written after a visit to Montreux, with only a few scraps of verbatim dialogue
"Apostrophes: Bernard Pivot rencontre Vladimir Nabokov" [Apostrophes: Bernard Pivot meets Vladimir Nabokov]. Tv interview Antenne-2 (Paris), date of live broadcast 30-May-75 (62 minutes). Video tape cartridge (VHS Secam): Paris: Vision Seuil, no year
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 64 pages, in French, dated Paris, May 30, 1975
32 live Q&A, prepared in writing; in between comments by Claude Barma and Gilles Lapouge
Lannes, Sophie (and Jacques Cabau): "Portrait de Nabokov" [Portrait of N]. L'Express (Paris), 30-Jun - 06-Jul -75, pp.62-65
Berg Collection m.b., typescript, 10 pages, in French, dated 30-Apr-75
Petchek, Willa: "Nabokov Since Lolita". The Observer Magazine (London), 9643, 30-May-76, pp.15-19
Berg Collection m.b.#930621, typescript, 3 pages, dated 11-Feb-76; Draft of article incorporating the answers with corrections by Véra Nabokov
Mulligan, Hugh A.: Interview for Associated Press, London. Excerpts published in various American newspapers, e.a. as "Vladimir Nabokov Discusses Writing, Politics, Russia..." in New Orleans, LA: The Times-Picayune, 16-Jan-77; Ithaca, NY: Ithaca Post, 30-Jan-77, p. 17; Dayton, OH: Dayton Leisure, 23-Jan-77
Berg Collection m.b.#930617, typescript, 9 pages, dated Montreux, 30-Nov-76
P/I supposedly written after a visit to Montreux. It remains unclear whether the interview ever took place, as most (or all) of Nabokov's answers are culled from other interviews or published writings.
Robinson, Robert: Tv interview for BBC Book Programme, filmed 14-Feb-77 in Montreux, published as "A Blush of Colour: Nabokov in Montreux", London: The Listener, 97 (2501), 24-Mar-77, pp.367,369. Reprinted in: Peter Quenell (ed.): Vladimir Nabokov: A tribute. New York: William Morrow, 1980, pp. 119-125. Brief excerpts in BBC documentary by Christopher Sykes, 1989
Berg Collection m.b., 17 index cards, undated
Introduction, 21 Q&A
D[onald] Barton Johnson / Ellendea Proffer: "Interview with Véra Nabokov and Dmitri Nabokov" (conducted 1989/91). Russian Literature Triquarterly (Ann Arbor, MI), 24, 1991, pp.73-85
23 Q&A concerning Nabokov's life and œuvre