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  1. Sep 2022
    1. MK said... Nabokov repurposed shoeboxes as card indexes.Manfred December 05, 2015 4:01 PM

      This is a comment from Manfred Kuehn! :)

      While the profile doesn't resolve anymore (he took his site down in 2018) and the sole archive copy is inconclusive, the profile ID number matches exactly with the author profile from archived copies of his Taking Note Now blog.

      I'm curious what his source was for the shoeboxes?

    1. I’m not sure how to explain the photograph — that might be a cardfile, not a shoebox. The number of blue lines per card in the Pale Fire passage suggests that John Shade used 6 x 4 cards. It looks like Nabokov in the car has 6 x 4s too.

      What size index cards did Vladimir Nabokov use?

      See also: series of Nabokov photos of him and index cards.

    2. After a leisurely lunch, prepared by the German cook who came with the house, I would spend another four-hour span in a lawn chair, among the roses and mockingbirds, using lined index cards and a Blackwing pencil, for copying and recopying, rubbing out and writing anew, the scenes I had imagined in the morning. Foreword to Lolita: A Screenplay (1973)
    3. The manuscript, mostly a Fair Copy, from which the present text has been faithfully printed, consists of eighty medium-sized index cards, on each of which Shade reserved the pink upper line for headings (canto number, date) and used the fourteen light-blue lines for writing out with a fine nib in a minute, tidy, remarkably clear hand, the text of this poem, skipping a line to indicate double space, and always using a fresh card to begin a new canto. Pale Fire (1962) [From Charles Kinbote's foreword to his edition of John Shade's poem.]
    1. Author Vladimir Nabokov at work, writing on index cards in his car.Location:Ithaca, NY, USDate taken:September 1958Photographer:Carl MydansSize:1280 x 889 pixels (17.8 x 12.3 inches)

      Author Vladimir Nabokov at work, writing on index cards in his car.

  2. Aug 2022
    1. When Vladimir Nabokov died in 1977, he left instructions for his heirs to burn the 138 handwritten index cards that made up the rough draft of his final and unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. But Nabokov’s wife, Vera, could not bear to destroy her husband’s last work, and when she died, the fate of the manuscript fell to her son. Dmitri Nabokov, now seventy-five—the Russian novelist’s only surviving heir, and translator of many of his books—has wrestled for three decades with the decision of whether to honor his father’s wish or preserve for posterity the last piece of writing of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

      Nabokov's wishes were that his heirs burn the index cards on which he had handwritten the beginning of his unfinished novel The Original of Laura. His wife Vera, not able to destroy her husband's work, couldn't do it, so the decision fell to their son Dimitri. Having translated many of his father's works previously, Dimitri Nabokov ultimately allowed Penguin the right to publish the unfinished novel.

  3. Jun 2022
    1. The slipbox and index cards on which Vladimir Nabokov wrote his novel Lolita.

      Vladimir Nabokov famously wrote most of his works including Lolita using index cards in a slip box. He ultimately died in 1977 leaving an unfinished manuscript in note card form for the novel The Original of Laura. Penguin later published the incomplete novel with in 2012 with the subtitle A Novel in Fragments. Unlike most manuscripts written or typewritten on larger paper, this one came in the form of 138 index cards. Penguin's published version recreated these cards in full-color reproductions including the smudges, scribbles, scrawlings, strikeouts, and annotations in English, French, and Russian. Perforated, one could tear the cards out of the book and reorganize in any way they saw fit or even potentially add their own cards to finish the novel that Nabokov couldn't.

      Index card on which Nabokov collated notes on ages, heights, and measurements for school aged girls as research for his title character Lolita.

      More details at: https://www.openculture.com/2014/02/the-notecards-on-which-vladimir-nabokov-wrote-lolita.html

    1. The term comes from Niklaus Luhmann, a German autodidact and famously prolific academic sociologist. Similar techniques were developed independently by Nabokov and Prisig, among others.

      https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/b566a4/what_is_a_zettelkasten/

      Wow. Even in the pinned post on r/Zettelkasten, they propagate the myth by implication that Luhmann invented the Zettelkasten.

      They also suggest that Nabokov and Pirsig independently developed similar techniques rather than that it was a commonplace (excuse the pun) pattern in the broader culture.

  4. danallosso.substack.com danallosso.substack.com
    1. https://danallosso.substack.com/p/note-cards?s=r

      Outline of one of Dan's experiments writing a handbook about reading, thinking, and writing. He's taking a zettelkasten-like approach, but doing it as a stand-alone project with little indexing and crosslinking of ideas or creating card addresses.

      This sounds more akin to the processes of Vladimir Nabokov and Ryan Holiday/Robert Greene.

  5. Apr 2022
    1. http://ratfactor.com/cards/cards-inspiration

      While his collection of public notes is extremely limited, Dave Gauer does provide a list of his inspiration and precursors mostly focusing on Soren Bjornstad's influence as well as Ward Cunningham's wiki.c2.com site and inspiration from Umberto Eco and Vladimir Nabokov.

    1. INTERVIEWER: Could you say something of your work habits?Do you write to a preplanned chart? Do you jump from onesection to another, or do you move from the beginning throughto the end?NABOKOV: The pattern of the thing precedes the thing. I fill inthe gaps of the crossword at any spot I happen to choose. Thesebits I write on index cards until the novel is done. My schedule

      is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.

      Nabokov on his system of writing.

    2. The Nabokov interview originally appeared in

      Gold, Herbert. “Vladimir Nabokov, The Art of Fiction No. 40.” The Paris Review, 1967. https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4310/the-art-of-fiction-no-40-vladimir-nabokov.

    3. An old Rolls Royce is not always preferable toa plain jeep.
    4. A first-rate college library with a comfortable cam-pus around it is a fine milieu for a writer.
    5. Oh, they are welcome to my work. As a matter offact, the Editions Victor are bringing out my Jnvitation to aBeheading in a reprint of the original Russian of 1935, and a NewYork publisher (Phaedra) is printing my Russian translation ofLolita. 1 am sure the Soviet Government will be happy to admitofficially a novel that seems to contain a prophecy of Hitler’sregime, and a novel that condemns bitterly the American systemof motels.

      condemns bitterly the American system of motels

      HA!

    6. I note incidentally thatprofessors of literature still assign these two poets to differentschools. There is only one school: that of talent.
    7. NABOKOV: By “editor” I suppose you mean_proofreader.Among these I have known limpid creatures of limitless tact andtenderness who would discuss with me a semicolon as if it werea point of honor—which, indeed, a point of art often is. But Ihave also come across a few pompous avuncular brutes who wouldattempt to “make suggestions” which I countered with a thunder-ous “‘stet!”’
    8. Derivative writers seem versa-tile because they imitate many others, past and present. Artisticoriginality has only its own self to copy.
    9. My characters are galley slaves.
    10. Nabokov arises early in the morning and works. He does hiswriting on filing cards, which are gradually copied, expanded, andrearranged until they become his novels.
    11. Mr. Nabokov’s writing method is to compose his stories and novels on index cards,shuffling them as the work progresses since he does not write in consecutive order.Every card is rewritten many times. When the work is completed,the cards in final order, Nabokov dictates from them to his wifewho types it up in triplicate.

      Vladimir Nabokov's general writing method consisted of composing his material on index cards so that he could shuffle them as he worked as he didn't write in consecutive order. He rewrote and edited cards many times and when the work was completed with the cards in their final order, Nabokov dictated them to his wife Vera who would type them up in triplicate.

    1. Nabokov’s working notecards for “Lolita.”

      Nabokov used index cards for his research and writing. In one index card for research on Lolita, he creates a "weight-heigh-age table for girls of school age" to be able to specify Lolita's measurements. He also researched the Colt catalog of 1940 to get gun specifications to make those small points realistic in his writing.

      syndication link

    2. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Colin Marshall</span> in The Notecards on Which Vladimir Nabokov Wrote Lolita: A Look Inside the Author's Creative Process | Open Culture (<time class='dt-published'>04/10/2022 12:18:34</time>)</cite></small>

    1. Reviewing The Original of Laura, Alexander Theroux describes the cards as a “portable strategy that allowed [Nabokov] to compose in the car while his wife drove the devoted lepidopterist on butterfly expeditions.”

      While note cards have a certain portability about them for writing almost anywhere, aren't notebooks just as easily portable? In fact, with a notebook, one doesn't need to worry about spilling and unordering the entire enterprise.

      There are, however, other benefits. By using small atomic pieces on note cards, one can be far more focused on the idea and words immediately at hand. It's also far easier in a creative and editorial process to move pieces around experimentally.

      Similarly, when facing Hemmingway's White Bull, the size and space of an index card is fall smaller. This may have the effect that Twitter's short status updates have for writers who aren't faced with the seemingly insurmountable burden of writing a long blog post or essay in other software. They can write 280 characters and stop. Of if they feel motivated, they can continue on by adding to the prior parts of a growing thread. Sadly, Twitter doesn't allow either editing or rearrangements, so the endeavor and analogy are lost beyond here.

    2. Having died in 1977, Nabokov never completed the book, and so all Penguin had to publish decades later came to, as the subtitle indicates, A Novel in Fragments. These “fragments” he wrote on 138 cards, and the book as published includes full-color reproductions that you can actually tear out and organize — and re-organize — for yourself, “complete with smudges, cross-outs, words scrawled out in Russian and French (he was trilingual) and annotated notes to himself about titles of chapters and key points he wants to make about his characters.”

      Vladimir Nabokov died in 1977 leaving an unfinished manuscript in note card form for the novel The Original of Laura. Penguin later published the incomplete novel with in 2012 with the subtitle A Novel in Fragments. Unlike most manuscripts written or typewritten on larger paper, this one came in the form of 138 index cards. Penguin's published version recreated these cards in full-color reproductions including the smudges, scribbles, scrawlings, strikeouts, and annotations in English, French, and Russian. Perforated, one could tear the cards out of the book and reorganize in any way they saw fit or even potentially add their own cards to finish the novel that Nabokov couldn't.


      Link to the idea behind Cain’s Jawbone by Edward Powys Mathers which had a different conceit, but a similar publishing form.

    3. https://www.openculture.com/2014/02/the-notecards-on-which-vladimir-nabokov-wrote-lolita.html

      Some basic information about Vladimir Nabokov's card file which he was using to write The Origin of Laura and a tangent on cards relating to Lolita.

  6. Jul 2021
    1. From Wikipedia I got the info about Nabokov. Jean Paul’s 1796 narration Leben des Quintus Fixlein is subtitled “aus funfzehn Zettelkästen gezogen; nebst einem Mustheil und einigen Jus de tablette” (literally: drawn from fifteen card indexes). Arno Schmidt’s so-called “book” Zettels Traum (roughly “index card’s dream”) looks like the collage it really is. You should just take a look at Zettels Traum and see for yourself! 

      Some interesting examples here. Hadn't known about Nabokov. I knew of Schmidt, but not the title or subject of this particular book.