Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, July 15, 2011

Will writers be allowed to interview themselves any more?

I ask only half in jest. The thought was prompted by the Paris Review blog t'other day, examining, amongst others, Nabokov's habit of 'self-interviewing' - in this context, having received and answered the questions in advance. As the post says:

Even when he appeared with Lionel Trilling on a “live” taped interview on a 1958 program called “Close Up” to discuss the controversy surrounding Lolita for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Nabokov reads his responses—on television—from his index cards.


The Paris Review interview with Nabokov from 1967 starts by saying:

The interviewer had sent ahead a number of questions. When he arrived at the Montreux Palace, he found an envelope waiting for him—the questions had been shaken up and transformed into an interview. A few questions and answers were added later, before the interview's appearance in the 1967 Summer/Fall issue of The Paris Review. In accordance with Nabokov's wishes, all answers are given as he wrote them down.


My point is: would this sort of approach to interviews be allowed now, in our current media climate of radical transparency? We've seen the imbroglio that Johann Hari has found himself in for illuminating the answers of his interviewees by quoting themselves from elsewhere - a minor sin, it appears to me. But could a writer, or indeed any other sort of interview, now ask that they could take a 'Nabokovian' approach to interviews, a performative one essentially, without being excoriated for having something to hide?

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