Monday, 28 December 2009

What's on a Writer's Table: Vladimir Nabokov Novel Writing and his Penholder

27 February 1929. Hotel Tablissement Thermal, Le Boulou, East Pyrenees. The photo taken by Vladimir Nabokov's wife shows the famous author novel writing in his hotel room. The novel is The Defence. What's on a writer's table? Known for his precise descriptions and love for details Nabokov revels on the photo exclaiming that "seldom does a casual snapshot compendiate a life so precisely".

A half-empty package of Gauloises cigarettes can be made out between the ink bottle and an overful ashtray. Family photos are propped against the four volumes of Dahl's Russian dictionary. The end of my robust, dark-brown penholder (a beloved tool of young oak that I used during my twenty years of literary labors in Europe and may rediscover yet in one of the trunks stored at Dean's, Ithaca, N.Y.) is already well chewed.

Nabokov Novel Writing from his hotel room with his penholder. 
From Speak Memory

My writing hand partly conceals a stack of setting boards. Spring moths would float in through the open window on overcast nights and settle upon the lighted wall on my left. In that way we colleted a number of rare Pugs in perfect condition and spread them out at once (they are now in an American musuem). Seldom does a casual snapshot compendiate a life so precisely.
Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory, Everyman's Library: 1999. First published in 1951.

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