Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024706, Sun, 20 Oct 2013 23:31:45 -0200

Safety in numbers?

"A publisher once remarked to me that every writer had somewhere in him a certain numeral engraved, the exact number

of pages which is the limit of any one book he would ever write. My number, I remember, was 385. Chekhov could never

write a good long novel - he was a sprinter, not a stayer." (LRL)

I wonder why Nabokov mentioned the opinion of a publisher to the point of indicating an exact number. He must have meant the original manuscript for, after all, the number of pages varies from one printed edition to another, say Speak Memory (316, 370), Pale Fire (315,232 ), The Gift (333, 402). Numbers for him sometimes were taken with supersticious wonder, sometimes only as a joke or a puzzle.

Would 385 have any particular meaning for him - elsewhere?

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