not in our stars, but in ourselves
As you know, if you’ve been playing along at home for a while, I am a big fan of Vladimir Nabokov. I love his novels, his stories, his interviews, his autobiography, his letters, his butterflies, his poetic/scientific precision – everything about him. In my decidedly amateur opinion, he’s the greatest writer of the twentieth century, and certainly my favorite writer of all time.
He was a sprightly correspondent, especially with his sublimely gifted wife, Véra. The website Brain Pickings (please, I don’t name these things, okay?) has been deeply enamored of the recently published Letters to Véra, and it’s been a delight to see posts about it pop up in my Facebook newsfeed instead of the usual dreck. One in particular has stuck with me, especially in light of my attempts to get some of you to talk to me. It’s called “A Questionnaire for the Immodest and Curious” – questions Nabokov devised for Véra to pass the time and have some fun. (It’s too often overlooked that Nabokov was a funny, funny man. Dommage.) Anyway, if any of you still want to ask me something, anything, but find it difficult to think up a question on your own – look no further. I will happily answer any of these
as I pretend it’s Volodya asking me instead of one of you lot.
1. Name, patronymic, last name
2. Pen-name, or a preferred pen-name
3. Age and preferred age
4. Attitude to marriage
5. Attitude to children
6. Profession and preferred profession
7. What century would you like to live in?
8. What city would you like to live in?
9. From what age do you remember yourself and your first memory?
10. Which of the existing religions is closest to your world-view?
11. What kind of literature do you like the most? What literary genre?
12. Your favorite books
13. Your favorite art
14. Your favorite artwork
15. Your attitude to technology
16. Do you appreciate philosophy? As a form of scholarship, as a pastime
17. Do you believe in progress?
18. Your favorite aphorism
19. Your favorite language
20. On what foundations does the world stand?
21. What miracle would you perform if you had a chance?
22. What would you do if you suddenly got a lot of money?
23. Your attitude to modern woman
24. Your attitude to modern man
25. What virtue and vice do you prefer and disapprove of in a woman?
26. What virtue and vice do you prefer and disapprove of in a man?
27. What gives you the keenest pleasure?
28. What gives you the keenest suffering?
29. Are you a jealous person?
30. Your attitude to lies
31. Do you believe in love?
32. Your attitude to drugs
33. Your most memorable dream
34. Do you believe in fate and predestination?
35. Your next reincarnation?
36. Are you afraid of death?
37. Would you like man to become immortal?
38. Your attitude to suicide:
39. Are you an anti-Semite? Yes. No. Why?
40. “Do you like cheese”?
41. Your favorite mode of transportation
42. Your attitude to solitude
43. Your attitude to our circle
44. Think of a name for it
45. Favorite menu
Go on, ask away.