Saturday, January 16, 2010

Speak, Memory

I'm not sure what I expected from this book, which is Nabokov's only autobiography. I guess I was hoping to get more insight into his creative process, and his world view. Instead, the book is mostly a kind of chilly reminiscence of his childhood experiences -- and maybe that is all the insight to Nabokov's worldview that one needs. Nowhere did the book have the feeling of someone telling a story with a point, but much more it had the feeling of someone trying to touch his foundational memories one last time, to bid them farewell. His passion for butterflies, and his solitary nature come through very strongly here -- nowhere does he speak fondly of childhood friends -- only loosely about his brother, and then intensely, later, about girls who caught his imagination. They say you should never try to meet an author whom you truly admire -- it will only end in disappointment -- and perhaps that is what I have found here. But, on the other hand, I couldn't pass up a chance to get to know better someone with such unique and fascinating talent. And when I think about it, perhaps the fact that his reality is surprisingly mundane should be an inspiration more than a disappointment.

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