Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025320, Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:44:34 -0700

Re: BIRTHDAY: Many happy returns (in Speak, Memory)
Dear SES,

But that gloating  uncle - what kind of a book would he be gloating over? it does seem as if a snake is lurking already in the garden.


From: "NABOKV-L, English" <nabokv-l@HOLYCROSS.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 4:24 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] BIRTHDAY: Many happy returns (in Speak, Memory)

Happy Birthday, Vladimir Vladimirovich!

And speaking of happiness, a theme that I propose that we also celebrate today, here's one of my favorite passages from Speak, Memory:

I see again my schoolroom in Vyra,the blue roses of the wallpaper, the
open window.  Its reflection fills the oval mirror above the leathern
couch where my uncle sits, gloating over a tattered book.  A sense of
security, of well-being, of summer warmth pervades my memory.  That
robust reality makes a ghost of the present.  The mirror brims with
brightness; a bumblebee has entered the room and bumps against the
ceiling.  Everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change,
nobody will ever die.

I love the mirror that reflects the
window, brimming with brightness, and the bumping bumblebee (as well as
the alliterative b's that suggest its sound).  Those sweeping statements at the end ("everything is," "nothing will ever," "nobody will ever")
are for me the very essence of how happiness feels -- even as their
wistful untruth poignantly suggests its limitation.

:) SES


Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
Co-Editor, NABOKV-L

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