With a sly smile, Vladimir Nabokov gives away the game.

Nabokov was a notoriously difficult writer to interview. The author of Lolita insisted on prepared questions even for recorded chats. But by some miracle the CBC got Nabokov to sit down for a spontaneous conversation in the late 1950s, now preserved on Youtube:

Interviewing Nabokov are Pierre Berton, a then-famous Canadian journalist, and Lionel Trilling, at the time the foremost literary critic in America. Parts of the show are dated: three white men sitting around a fake living room, smoking away while talking about books. But there is a magic moment at the 2:50 mark of the first video. Trilling says, “You can’t trust a creative artist to say what he has done...” Pay close attention to Nabokov’s face when Trilling makes these remarks. You can see a very sly grin, like a little school boy whose prank has been caught out by an alert teacher.

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