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Vladimir Nabokov - Speak, Memory (Discussion)

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... all of his books are like that. At least the ones that I have read balance out in the end. Not always to one's liking, but balance all the same.

Pontalba,

That really sounds like a thought I'll remember!

But meanwhile I'm still trying to make the time to get into the front of this one. Today it shall happen!

I hope muggle_not is someplace ahead of me in the reading? /listens for echo :) /

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Something I appreciated about Speak, Memory was the way Nabokov brought out his love for his family without exposing everything private about them. He manages to give wonderfully detailed images, but not invade their privacy. Of course VN was such a private person himself, so of course would be protective of The Family privacy.

But by the end of the book, the reader has a very good picture of VN and his family.

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Keep posting y'all. I am through the intro and about a dozen pages into the book. I do enjoy reading the posts even though I am not up to speed.

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Hi muggle not!

A dozen pages in still puts you ahead of me by about a dozen pages! /groan/

But I hope it means that the housing problems you mentioned earlier have gone away, so that now you have time for reading and relaxing. Every time I have moved, everything has been up in the air forever after it seemed.

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I read Speak, Memory a few months back, but you know how it is, the details fade as time goes on, so I am rereading, or rescanning at any rate. One of the things I think most people don't realize about Nabokov is the fact that he actually could read and write English before his native Russian. That fact has gotten lost, and everyone marvels at his beautiful and fluid prose especially as they think English is not his native language. Well, it isn't his native language, but it did precede his native Russian. Phew! If any of that makes any sense.

Anyhow it is brought out on p.28 that

During one of his short stays with us in the country that summer, he ascertained, with patriotic dismay, that my brother and I could read and write English but not Russian (except KAKAO and MAMA). It was decided that the village schoolmaster should come every afternoon to give us lessons and take us for walks.
The "his/he" in that quote referrs to VN's father.

Plus the time was the summer of 1905...Nabokov was born in April of 1899.

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It was decided that the village schoolmaster should come every afternoon to give us lessons and take us for walks.
The "his/he" in that quote referrs to VN's father.

Plus the time was the summer of 1905...Nabokov was born in April of 1899.

 

Pontalba,

I was also struck by the other fact about 1905, actually 1906, and his father. Namely that his father was jailed for organizing a protest against the Tsar when the latter illegally dissolved the Parliament. I don't know much about the politics or Government of the period but maybe his father was lucky to escape with his life and (only!) 1 1/2 years in jail. In any event, here was young Nabokov becoming aware of the political events of 1905-6, then being squeezed out of Russia into Germany by the Russian Revolution, and then being squeezed further to France and eventually to the United States by the rise of Hitler. Vladimir Nabokov, in his own person, was a direct witness to momentous events in Eurpoean history, beginning right in chapter 1 of Speak, Memory. It's almost a wonder to me he didn't go into politics, but fortunate for literature that he didn't. In fact, it may be lucky that he escaped with his own life through all of that turmoil.

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Vladimir Nabokov's father was an amazing man. There was a small window of opportunity inbetween the Tsars and the Communist Revolution, that some lovers of democracy attempted to use. Here is a wikipdeia article on VN's father.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Dmitrievich_Nabokov

 

Fascinating family.

 

As far as VN going into politics for himself, I think he saw too much corruption and the sad results of interference in same to attempt such a thing. He lived in Berlin part of the 20's and the 30's, but he kept as separate from the Germans as possible, refusing to throughly learn the language even.

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Discuss slower :wink: I've not even started yet. :badmood: But I can't wait to. Probably will be this Sunday. Glad to see three pages here already.

 

:) You got it! Glad to see ya.

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Discuss slower :wink: I've not even started yet. :badmood: But I can't wait to. Probably will be this Sunday. Glad to see three pages here already.

Dogmatix,

Have no fear! The "slower" is taking care of itself quite nicely here, at least, as I get completely absorbed in the writing and can't speed ahead. :) His descriptions are beautiful to read, and then reread and visualize.

I am really quite taken by the book and overjoyed to see another person joining in. Welcome, if I may say. :roll:

 

And Pontalba, many thanks for the link. I'll get to it in the daylight when I am a little more awake here. Now it is back to bed.

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A few posts back

...maybe his father was lucky to escape with his life and (only!) 1 1/2 years in jail.

 

Correct that!

 

VN's father spent 3 months in jail (only!) for opposing the Tsar, not 1 1/2 years. That seems really mild.

 

Another benefit of re-reading: Catching errors. /sigh/ :)

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Vladimir Nabokov's father was an amazing man. There was a small window of opportunity inbetween the Tsars and the Communist Revolution, that some lovers of democracy attempted to use. Here is a wikipdeia article on VN's father.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Dmitrievich_Nabokov

Pontalba,

What a fascinating article about a democratic possibility in Russian History that I never knew anything about! And V.D. Nabokov's role in it. Amazing. :shock:

Great link!

Many thanks.

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I've got my copy and should be cracking its spine in just a couple of days. :)

Go slow now. I don't want to be the one to turn out the lights.

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I like this idea of slow reading. Not only does it fit in with my available time, but I see so many things in this book that are worth a second look and some comment or discussion (and only the first chapter, so far!). But right now I'm going to have to do some slow sleeping. So, see you all tomorrow. :)

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:that: Slow is the best speed when reading Nabokov, as if he is read too fast.....great details are lost. sloooowiiinnnng speeeeedd noowww....

 

:)

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I've got my copy and should be cracking its spine in just a couple of days. :D

Go slow now. I don't want to be the one to turn out the lights.

 

LOL muggle, you know how long winded I can be, so I doubt there is any fear of you being the last to leave. 8-) :D

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One thing I have noticed while reading the book is that Nabokov's mother was a very perceptive woman. Everyone seems to talk about Nabokov and his father but the mother seems to be quite a woman, at least from the little that i have read so far.

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You are very correct muggle, she was a wonderful woman, and if not for her his life would have been quite different. But I won't give the reason away. :D

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Ahhhh Pontalba I see the light. This is a gorgeous book. Swallowed down the first couple of chapters this morning.

 

First impresions:

 

His mastery of imagery is awesome. I'm not reading about it I'm experiencing it.

 

He's obviously brilliant. I've got to keep a dictionary at arm's length for some of the words but after getting the definitions in my head I see that Nabokov choose each not because they are obscure and show "just how smart he is" but because each is THE perfect word to use.

 

I love the discussion about the beginings of self awarenes and memory. Such an interesting and beautiful description of early chilhood.

 

Oh and Muggle, I think I love his mother almost as much as he does.

 

Okay so I need a very brief review on the timeline from Tsar to WWII. I don't know anything about Bolsheviks, Lennin, Stalin. Gotta love an ethnocentric American education. Anyone care to joy down a brief note for my benefit?

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