非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Pamuk on Teaching His Own Novels

I teach comparative literature at Columbia University. At the start of every semester, if I plan to discuss one of my own novels in class, I always tell my new students an old story about writing and teaching.

It’s a very popular (but possibly apocryphal) anecdote about Vladimir Nabokov. In 1957, he was proposed for an appointment at Harvard University as professor of Russian literature. Not everyone welcomed the idea. “If Russian literature is to be taught by Russian greats,” the Harvard linguist Roman Jacobson reportedly told his colleagues, “then we must get elephants to teach at the faculty of zoology.”

(Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, quoted in Sometimes, to Teach a Novel Feels Like a Betrayal of Literature)

Speak Your Mind

*