I asked, a few days ago, about "Kew Gardens" by Virginia Woolf, and what makes it such a successful piece of fiction being so contrary to conventional writing (disregarding the standards for language changing with time). But the question still bugs me, what makes good fiction. Below are a couple of quotes by famous authors about what fiction is. Following are excerpts from various interviews with Vladimir Nabokov. What I want to know is what your take is on their views. Do you agree? What do you think fiction is? What should good fiction be? Should a work be judged be its impact or the skill with which it's been crafted? Must it crafted according to formula and method? Sorry it is a lot to read, but you don't have to read all of it to get the ideas? ************************** Fiction is... ---"a make-believe story, written in prose." - Littre ---"some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language." - Jane Austen ---"'The proper stuff of fiction' does not exist; everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss. And if we can imagine the art of fiction come alive and standing in our midst, she would undoubtedly bid us break her and bully her, as well as honour and love her, for so her youth is renewed and her sovereignty assured." - Virginia Woolf Nabokov on Fiction ---------- Interviewer: Why did you write Lolita? Nabokov: It was an interesting thing to do. Why did I write all my books, after all? For the sake of the pleasure, for the sake of the difficulty. I have no social purpose, no moral message; I’ve no general ideas to exploit, I just like composing riddles with elegant solutions (Strong Opinions 16). ---------- Interviewer: In terms of modern art, critical opinion is divided about the sincerity or deceitfulness, simplicity or complexity, of contemporary abstract painting. What is your own opinion? Nabokov: Only talent interests me in paintings and books. Not general ideas, but the individual contribution. Interviewer: A contribution to society? Nabokov: A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual and only the individual reader is important to me. I don’t give a damn for the group, the community, the masses, and so forth. Although I do not care for the slogan “art for art’s sake”—because unfortunately such promoters of it as, for instance, Oscar Wilde and various dainty poets, were in reality rank moralists and didacticists—there can be no question that what makes a work of fiction safe from larvae and rust is not its social importance but its art, only its art (Strong Opinions 33). ---------- Interviewer: Why do you say you dislike “serious” writers? Don’t you just mean “bad” artists? Nabokov: Let me put it this way. By inclination and intent I avoid squandering my art on the illustrated catalogues of solemn notions and serious opinions; and I dislike their pervasive presence in the works of others. What ideas can be traced in my novels belong to my creatures therein and may be deliberately flawed (Strong Opinions 147).