Nabokov Revised Too

Shakespeare’s revisions (and Nabokov’s) matter for two reasons. Revision indicated that even these writers shouldn’t be considered godlike figures from whom the muse poured forth perfection on the first try, but writers who are—in some ways—like other writers, in at least this respect: They were subject to second thoughts.

This popped out at me while skimming a fawning piece on Nabokov, who must have died recently.

I thought it was well-known that any artistic, musical, literary, mathematical, or engineering genius both used writing to enhance their mental working space, and improved substantially on their work by revision.  I’d say whatever exceptions there are (who did it all in their head and submitted only first drafts), could have been better had they edited.  If they didn’t edit or redraft, all I’d say is that they didn’t find the activity rewarding, not that it wouldn’t have helped.

I’m not saying that the most-revised work is always the best (though Madame Bovary may be excellent; I haven’t read it).

It was seeing this edit of Kafka’s work by Nabokov in my RSS reader that started me wondering if Nabokov was dead:

On the whole, the edits improve it.  I’ve never read Nabokov - but I think I will, soon.