In my long friendship with Gene we shared various Nabokovian pleasures, the most spine-tingling of which occurred on the Connecticut shore in the 1980s. Gene had come to speak to my seminar at Wesleyan in early March. The next day we went for a long walk along the deserted beach--my husband was leading us to a distant promontory. Along the way Gene picked up one half of a conch shell and I the other; he said: this is the Greek etymology of “symbol” (to throw together), leading me to ask if he’d traced the shell motif through Nabokov’s novels. He hadn’t. I started my catalogue with Speak Memory, where Colette injures her foot on a mussel shell.