This morning I was thinking about how the publication of a short story marks its death. The deceased is identified on the headstone: title, author. What about an epitaph?
Page 312, sentence 14 — that’s what came to mind with reference to the compilation of Nabokov stories I’ve been reading. The procedure: excerpt some aphoristic fragment from that sentence, mounting it as the epitaph for the story in which it’s embedded. Here’s the tombstone:
LIPS TO LIPS
by Vladimir Nabokov
“finally made up his mind to sacrifice glamour to realism”
In the Notes at the end of the volume, Nabokov informs the reader that, while this story “finally had been accepted for publication” in 1931, it wasn’t actually published until 1956, “by which time everybody who might have been suspected of remotely resembling the characters in the story was safely and heirlessly dead.”