In Nabokov’s pocket diaries for 1942 in the Berg collection of the New York Public Library, he notes
Thurs Dec 3,
Subject “The Art of Writing,” Hour: 9:00pm
$50.00 + hospitality
“Springfield-Meriden-Middletown (buses) arr. Middletown 5.00pm
Get off at corner of High and Washington St/Thomas W. Bussom Director of Honors College/Leave Middletown by bus
Leave Meriden for New York over New Haven
Cream for the hands
Kraska dlia gub (Cyrillic) [lipstick]
The Wesleyan Argus (December 7, 1942, Vol. LXXVI, No. 20, pp. 1, 4) reported Nabokov’s visit with the headline, WRITER STATES HIS CRITERIA FOR GOOD LITERARY WORK; Well-Known Author Emphasizes “Ivory Tower” As Best Aid for Novelist.
The “ivory tower” here refers to an individual’s intense personal experience which evolves from introspection, a “blinding flash” which makes a writer a great thinker only if he is able to communicate his ideas to others through the medium of his books (p. 1). Nabokov is quoted as saying, “The capacity to wonder at trifles is the highest sense of observation,” the essential delight of the intellectual mind. The article concludes, “…the novelist stated that his personal interpretation of the creative process depend[s] on two conditions: 1. The complete dissociation of what is termed matter, and 2. its recreation in a new form” (p. 4).
Such a near-miss—on the occasion, three months old, I was unable to meet that bus which later brought another wave of Russian émigré writers to Wesleyan.