Writers Write shares writing tips and writing resources. In this post, we share Vladimir Nabokov’s 3 qualities for a major writer.
Vladimir Nabokov was a Russian-American novelist. He was born into an old aristocratic family on 22 April 1899 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He died 2 July 1977 in Montreux, Switzerland.
Lolita was ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels in 2007; Pale Fire was ranked 53rd on the same list; and his memoir, Speak, Memory, was listed eighth on publisher Random House’s list of the 20th century’s greatest nonfiction. His great affection for his father and the environment in which he grew up is evident in this memoir.
A collection of Nabokov’s letters to his wife was published as Letters to Véra in 2015.
He was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times, but never won it. He was awarded the National Medal for Literature for his life’s work in 1973.
He also made serious contributions as a lepidopterist and chess composer.
In his Lectures on Literature, he explores the qualities a major writer needs.
Vladimir Nabokov’s 3 Qualities For A Major Writer
According to Nabokov, a writer should be:
- A Storyteller.
- A Teacher.
- An Enchanter.
He said: “There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter. A major writer combines these three — storyteller, teacher, enchanter — but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer.
- To the storyteller we turn for entertainment, for mental excitement of the simplest kind, for emotional participation, for the pleasure of traveling in some remote region in space or time.
- A slightly different though not necessarily higher mind looks for the teacher in the writer. Propagandist, moralist, prophet — this is the rising sequence. We may go to the teacher not only for moral education but also for direct knowledge, for simple facts…
- Finally, and above all, a great writer is always a great enchanter, and it is here that we come to the really exciting part when we try to grasp the individual magic of his genius and to study the style, the imagery, the pattern of his novels or poems.
The three facets of the great writer — magic, story, lesson — are prone to blend in one impression of unified and unique radiance, since the magic of art may be present in the very bones of the story, in the very marrow of thought. ”
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