Modern Non-Fiction: Speak, Memory, by Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Dimitrievich Nabokov (1870-1922) was a wealthy barin and a good and courageous man, a member of parliament in Tsarist Russia, briefly imprisoned for attempting to reform that régime, and briefly Minister of Justice in a short-lived post-Tsarist and anti-Bolshevik government. He escaped abroad, following his family to Western Europe, and was murdered in Berlin in 1922 by a Russian Nazi, having heroically interposed himself between the assassin and his intended target.

His eldest son, Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (1899-1977), was the greatest novelist of the 20th century. The junior Vladimir (henceforth our principal Nabokov) represents the last generation of intact pre-Soviet-era childhoods. He learned English and French before he learned Russian, and all but his early novels were written in English. The Tsarist aristocracy was astonishingly and obsessively cultured (and also wanted to carry on pas devant les domestiques discussions). Nabokov’s childhood had a princely sheen, fairytale flakes of which clearly rubbed off on Pale Fire and especially Ada. (Ada is essentially a female Nabokov, and the leading man, Van, a reflection of that reflection.)

Nabokov’s depth of reading and an unparalleled clarity in visual imagination yielded greatest command of English by any writer this side of Joyce. Readers will understand his style is lyrical, not narrative. His scenes are quiet, but they glow like stained glass. Certain passages recur frequently in my mind not as words but as images: the giant Faber pencil his mother bought from an art shop display window to cheer him up when he was sick; his bicycle light zig-zagging up a hill in the dark; his synesthetic alphabet. (Like his mother, he naturally associated colors and textures with particular letters.)

But I like Nabokov less, personally, than I did before I’d read Speak, Memory. Perhaps most honest memoirs produce a similar effect. In 1939, his mother expired alone and in greatly straitened circumstances in Prague. His younger brother Sergey figures so often in early stories that one is jarred by the bizarre nonchalance with which Nabokov mentions Sergey’s having died in 1945 in a Nazi concentration camp “of inanition.” (That is, he starved to death.) His first great love, “Tamara,” to whom he swore undying fealty, he left in Soviet Russia – leaving us to wonder what became of her. (He never found out.) These little items make an odd contrast to his unrelenting cross-continental obsession with chasing butterflies. At points, his sense of self-satisfaction, even his satisfaction at his ruthless self-honesty, make him sound like the sort of guy who could eventually be your good friend, but only after you’d had a serious fistfight. So it’s not surprising that Nabokov regarded writing as a chess-like battle of wits between author and audience.   If you just sit back and let his prose wash over you, you’ll miss most of it. Nabokov wants to be unlocked as much as read.

Prose: 10/10

Engagingness: 8/10

Beauty: 9/10

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): 9/10

Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited.  First published 1951.  This edition: Library of America, 1996. 270 pages.

825 thoughts on “Modern Non-Fiction: Speak, Memory, by Vladimir Nabokov

  1. Pingback: viagra canadian
  2. Pingback: cialis price
  3. Pingback: cialis canada
  4. Pingback: ciproxine 500 mg
  5. Pingback: cialis prices
  6. Pingback: cialis otc
  7. Pingback: ed medications
  8. Pingback: online pharmacy
  9. Pingback: walmart pharmacy
  10. Pingback: Get cialis
  11. Pingback: online vardenafil
  12. Pingback: levitra 10mg
  13. Pingback: vardenafil cost
  14. Pingback: free slots
  15. Pingback: cialis otc
  16. Pingback: online casino usa
  17. Pingback: loan online
  18. Pingback: payday advance
  19. Pingback: instant loans
  20. Pingback: viagra cost
  21. Pingback: cialis generic
  22. Pingback: 20 cialis
  23. Pingback: buy viagra 100mg
  24. Pingback: generic cialis
  25. Pingback: cialis buy
  26. Pingback: cialis buy
  27. Pingback: slots real money
  28. Pingback: casino
  29. Pingback: casinos online
  30. Pingback: sildenafil 20 mg
  31. Pingback: natural viagra
  32. Pingback: buy cialis
  33. Pingback: viagra cost
  34. Pingback: cialis 20mg
  35. Pingback: real money casino
  36. Pingback: Viagra 120mg uk
  37. Pingback: viagra generic
  38. Pingback: liquid cialis
  39. Pingback: order Cialis 10mg
  40. Pingback: cheap viagra
  41. Pingback: buy viagra
  42. Pingback: cheap viagra
  43. Pingback: Cialis 20 mg nz
  44. Pingback: Cialis 20 mg cost
  45. Pingback: Cialis 80mg prices
  46. Pingback: tadalafil
  47. Pingback: levitra 10mg otc
  48. Pingback: lasix 100 mg otc
  49. Pingback: otc viagra
  50. Pingback: lexapro 10mg cost
  51. Pingback: viagra pills
  52. Pingback: amaryl 4mg uk
  53. Pingback: antabuse 250mg uk
  54. Pingback: antivert 25mg nz
  55. Pingback: aricept 10 mg nz
  56. Pingback: arimidex 1mg otc
  57. Pingback: cialis blog
  58. Pingback: cheap viagra
  59. Pingback: viagra substitute
  60. Pingback: viagra pills
  61. Pingback: ceftin 125mg cheap
  62. Pingback: celebrex coupon
  63. Pingback: celexa pharmacy
  64. Pingback: cipro price
  65. Pingback: claritin 10 mg otc
  66. Pingback: real online casino
  67. Pingback: casino slot games
  68. Pingback: online casino
  69. Pingback: slot games online
  70. Pingback: real casino
  71. Pingback: liquid viagra uk
  72. Pingback: buy cialis canada
  73. Pingback: payday loans now
  74. Pingback: generic cialis buy
  75. Pingback: payday loans
  76. Pingback: cbd oil 300mg
  77. Pingback: tadalafil cialis
  78. Pingback: revatio 100mg
  79. Pingback: 711 viagra pills
  80. Pingback: viagra ciais
  81. Pingback: aa seat assignment
  82. Pingback: essay writing
  83. Pingback: Get viagra fast
  84. Pingback: buy clonidine
  85. Pingback: Buy cheap viagra
  86. Pingback: cialis packaging
  87. Pingback: cialis
  88. Pingback: compazine 5mg usa
  89. Pingback: essay helper
  90. Pingback: Buy viagra in us
  91. Pingback: ddavp 0.1mg canada
  92. Pingback: buy depakote 500mg
  93. Pingback: diamox coupon
  94. Pingback: buy etodolac
  95. Pingback: flomax 0,2mg cost
  96. Pingback: geodon 80mg online
  97. Pingback: cheap hyzaar
  98. Pingback: cialis ordering
  99. Pingback: imdur tablet
  100. Pingback: cialis coupon
  101. Pingback: cialis website
  102. Pingback: cialis 20 mg
  103. Pingback: cialis pill
  104. Pingback: imitrex prices
  105. Pingback: her latest blog
  106. Pingback: cost of viagra
  107. Pingback: Click This Link
  108. Pingback: viagra online
  109. Pingback: cialis vs viagra
  110. Pingback: imuran 25 mg usa
  111. Pingback: lamisil 250mg otc
  112. Pingback: lopid 300mg nz
  113. Pingback: cost of meclizine
  114. Pingback: cost of mestinon
  115. Pingback: drugstore online
  116. Pingback: micardis coupon
  117. Pingback: mobic online
  118. Pingback: pharmacy in canada
  119. Pingback: Forzest
  120. Pingback: plaquenil purchase
  121. Pingback: prevacid 30 mg otc
  122. Pingback: procardia tablets
  123. Pingback: cost of robaxin
  124. Pingback: order rogaine
  125. Pingback: seroquel 200 mg nz
  126. Pingback: cheapest skelaxin
  127. Pingback: thorazine prices
  128. Pingback: toprol online
  129. Pingback: tricor for sale
  130. Pingback: valtrex canada
  131. Pingback: zanaflex for sale
  132. Pingback: view it now
  133. Pingback: visit site
  134. Pingback: zocor tablet
  135. Pingback: zyvox online
  136. Pingback: atomoxetine online
  137. Pingback: buspirone for sale
  138. Pingback: buy clonidinemg
  139. Pingback: buy cialis 36 hour
  140. Pingback: clozapine uk
  141. Pingback: 365 cialis
  142. Pingback: trazodone uk
  143. Pingback: buy cialis toronto
  144. Pingback: phenytoin price
  145. Pingback: bisacodyl price
  146. Pingback: ecstasy and viagra
  147. Pingback: permethrin 30g otc
  148. Pingback: 141genericExare
  149. Pingback: tvyjvjir
  150. Pingback: cialis 20 mg cost
  151. Pingback: viagra order
  152. Pingback: buy cialis 36 hour
  153. Pingback: lamotrigine online
  154. Pingback: buy cialis 36 hour
  155. Pingback: buy cialis 36 hour
  156. Pingback: albuterol purchase
  157. Pingback: prednisolone 20mg
  158. Pingback: vitex and clomid
  159. Pingback: dapoxetine tablets
  160. Pingback: diflucan one dose
  161. Pingback: thesis advice
  162. Pingback: propecia itch
  163. Pingback: plaquenil for ra
  164. Pingback: cheap drugs online
  165. Pingback: drugs from canada
  166. Pingback: Zakhar Berkut
  167. Pingback: cialis dapoxetine
  168. Pingback: 4569987
  169. Pingback: generic cialis usa
  170. Pingback: news news news
  171. Pingback: psy2022
  172. Pingback: projectio-freid
  173. Pingback: cialis retina
  174. Pingback: kinoteatrzarya.ru
  175. Pingback: topvideos
  176. Pingback: video
  177. Pingback: 20mg for sale
  178. Pingback: 20mg for sale
  179. Pingback: Ukrainskie-serialy
  180. Pingback: site
  181. Pingback: top
  182. Pingback: cialis cost in nz
  183. Pingback: podolsk-region.ru
  184. Pingback: cytotmeds.com
  185. Pingback: novo prednisone
  186. Pingback: viagra experience
  187. Pingback: priligy usage
  188. Pingback: lyrica instagram
  189. Pingback: viagra sale
  190. Pingback: sildenafil online
  191. Pingback: cialis tab 10mg
  192. Pingback: cialis 20
  193. Pingback: viagra sale asda
  194. Pingback: viagra price
  195. Pingback: canadian viagra
  196. Pingback: viagra sale us
  197. Pingback: amoxicillin 250g
  198. Pingback: finasteride fda
  199. Pingback: buy cialis 20mg
  200. Pingback: acheter ventoline
  201. Pingback: ebay cialis
  202. Pingback: cialis no pres
  203. Pingback: cialis for men
  204. Pingback: cheap ed meds
  205. Pingback: sildenafil 100mg
  206. Pingback: discount viagra
  207. Pingback: zithromax otc
  208. Pingback: viagra foods
  209. Pingback: homemade viagra
  210. Pingback: lady viagra
  211. Pingback: sildenafil
  212. Pingback: amoxicillin 500mg
  213. Pingback: lasix cheap online
  214. Pingback: buy neurontin
  215. Pingback: plaquenil 250
  216. Pingback: prednisone 0.5 mg
  217. Pingback: viagra pornhub
  218. Pingback: modafinil good rx
  219. Pingback: stromectol otc
  220. Pingback: ventolin prices
  221. Pingback: snorting viagra
  222. Pingback: generic otc viagra
  223. Pingback: neurontin 214
  224. Pingback: plaquenil
  225. Pingback: viagra pill
  226. Pingback: priligy 30mg uk
  227. Pingback: womens viagra
  228. Pingback: sildenafil citrate
  229. Pingback: cost of viagra
  230. Pingback: walmart viagra
  231. Pingback: sex games toys
  232. Pingback: sildenafil goodrx
  233. Pingback: ivermectin uk
  234. Pingback: viagra amazon
  235. Pingback: cialis 20
  236. Pingback: setcialimir.com
  237. Pingback: ivermectin covid
  238. Pingback: ventolin tablets
  239. Pingback: cialis for bph
  240. Pingback: ivermectin wiki
  241. Pingback: flccc ivermectin
  242. Pingback: mask
  243. Pingback: 8mg zanaflex
  244. Pingback: molnupiravir 400
  245. Pingback: buy bimatoprost
  246. Pingback: latisse
  247. Pingback: zanaflex price
  248. Pingback: Anonymous
  249. Pingback: nolvadex uk
  250. Pingback: ivermectin 5ml
  251. Pingback: generic stromectol
  252. Pingback: ivermectin 400 mg
  253. Pingback: Anonymous
  254. Pingback: Anonymous
  255. Pingback: ivermectin cost
  256. Pingback: ivermectin price
  257. Pingback: ivermectin kaufen
  258. Pingback: ivermectin tablets
  259. Pingback: cialis pills
  260. Pingback: cialis online
  261. Pingback: cialis 20mg online
  262. Pingback: tadalalafilaquest
  263. Pingback: buy ivermectin nz
  264. Pingback: ivermectin 1
  265. Pingback: viagra vs cialis
  266. Pingback: buy viagra online
  267. Pingback: brand cialis
  268. Pingback: sildenafil pills
  269. Pingback: dengue ivermectin
  270. Pingback: tadala
  271. Pingback: 2presidency
  272. Pingback: 2goldsmith
  273. Pingback: cialis dapoxetine
  274. Pingback: cost of ivermectin
  275. Pingback: cialis cost 20mg
  276. Pingback: generic for cialis
  277. Pingback: ivermectina oral
  278. Pingback: stromectol generic
  279. Pingback: cialis goodrx
  280. Pingback: ivermectin 4
  281. Pingback: ivermectin studies
  282. Pingback: sanofi cialis
  283. Pingback: ivermectin uses
  284. Pingback: ivermectin 90 mg
  285. Pingback: stromectol otc
  286. Pingback: buy stromectol
  287. Pingback: tadalafil otc
  288. Pingback: iwermektyna
  289. Pingback: bahis siteleri
  290. Pingback: hdorg2.ru
  291. Pingback: cialis or viagra
  292. Pingback: Anonymous
  293. Pingback: A片
  294. Pingback: pornoizle}
  295. Pingback: porno}
  296. Pingback: vardenafil cvs

Comment