Vladimir Nabokov’s Disdain For Editors
What did Vladimir Nabokov think about editors and the editing process?
Here’s what he had to say in a 1967 interview with The Paris Review:
And the function of the editor? Has one ever had literary advice to offer?
By “editor” I suppose you mean proofreader. Among these I have known limpid creatures of limitless tact and tenderness who would discuss with me a semicolon as if it were a point of honor—which, indeed, a point of art often is. But I have also come across a few pompous avuncular brutes who would attempt to “make suggestions” which I countered with a thunderous “stet!”
Now, I think some of that might be tongue-in-cheek, but it still comes across as pompous to me—which is ironic since he accuses his editors of the same thing.
Whether tongue-in-cheek or not—and, granted, Nabokov’s tone through the entire interview is in somewhat of a joking manner—he doesn’t appear to be a big fan of editors.
Not sure that Nabokov would have ever envisioned a day when people could so easily self-publish a book—when these “proofreaders” would be so vital to the quality of a novel.
When people like this guy, who are basically the anti-Vladimir Nabokov, could slap some words on the screen, pay a few bucks for some online vendor to bind it all together, and call himself a published author.
I don’t have a problem with self-publishing, but too many people throw crap out there without anyone so much as scanning over it for typos. Sounds like Nabokov would’ve been okay with that.
Unlike Nabokov, I love editors. Have you hugged your editor today?