Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025789, Mon, 27 Oct 2014 09:16:40 -0700

Re: QUERY: Source for alleged quote by VN?
It is reminiscent of a statement Nabokov made in a 1963 Playboy interview: "We think not in words but in shadows of words."

The quotation appears twice in relation to the artist Alex Colville:

Meyers, Jeffrey. "Alex Colville: Tradition and the Individual Talent." The Antioch Review 62.2 (2004): 348-354.
"Colville first conceives a picture when (quoting Nabokov) he imagines 'the shadow of an object which is not yet present.'" (349)

MacInnes, Elaine. Zen Contemplation for Christians. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 2004.
"The fine painter Alex Colville, whose artistic roots are also at my alma mater, Mount Allison University, recently quoted the novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who described the aspiration of an artist as 'the shadow of an object that is not yet present.' He presented it as the genesis of a creative idea. It certainly rings true to me about my beginnings in religious life." (32)

Since I can find nothing else, I will assume Alex Colville was quoting from memory and added an artistic touch of his own to the idea.

Joseph Schlegel
PhD Candidate
University of Toronto
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

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