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You have to consult biographies like Brian Boyd's for the full, remarkable facts of Nabokov's life. A millionaire at 17 (his sister danced in Diaghilev gowns with Fabergé gems at the Winter Palace), repeatedly exiled, forced to bust out of one chrysalis after another into new lives, the writer retained only the infinite wealth of his memory and art. This book is a mosaic shaped by a mind so metaphorical that, as a babe, Nabokov perceived letters as colors, the alphabet as a rainbow.
The loss of his father is at Speak, Memory's core. This memoir is worth owning for a single paragraph alone, about the sight of Nabokov senior being tossed aloft by grateful peasants he'd been generous to--a dozen or so with locked arms flinging him up in a hip-hip-hooray ritual.
There, for an instant, the figure of my father in his wind-rippled white summer suit would be displayed, gloriously sprawled in midair.... Thrice, to the mighty heave-ho of his invisible tossers, he would fly up ... and then there he would be, on his last and loftiest flight, reclining, as if for good, against the cobalt blue of the summer noon, like one of those paradisiac personages who comfortably soar, with such a wealth of folds in their garments, on the vaulted ceiling of a church while below, one by one, the wax tapers in mortal hands light up to make a swarm of minute flames in the mist of incense, and the priest chants of eternal repose, and funeral lilies conceal the face of whoever lies there, among the swimming lights, in the open coffin.Nabokov recaptures the paradise of his youth, and acquits himself of the coldness of which some accuse him. He plays literary games, but he plays for keeps. --Tim Appelo
Nabokov is a brilliant writer but spends too much time trying to prove it. When he writes from the heart, and the work flows, it is a joy to read. Read morePublished 20 hours ago by Paul Davey
The book is a difficult read for anyone who wants to understand every word used by the famously well educated writer. I gave up on this after two chapters. Read morePublished 16 days ago by edward rosenthal
Oh the beauty of Nabokov's writing. Even his autobiography can be written in a way that floats us into the ether of contemplation, only to set us back down full of beautiful... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amory Ross
Book may be good, but how it's written it's really hard to get into, so I wasn't able to find out.Published 1 month ago by Emily G.
Nabokov didn't live in reality, he created one. His books are pop-up books in a way - they are so 3-dimensional, new world is created on every page. Read more
So intellectual and literguical he is truely one of the 20th century's greatest.Published 3 months ago by lisa wolf
In my (and many others' opinions) this is the best written prose in English. Nabokov's true genius lives on every page in this unembittered telling of his émigré... Read morePublished 3 months ago by S. Needham
Nabokov shares the childhood and youth of a Russian in the first years of the last century . His self- absorption allows his portrait to reflect much that will later season his... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Margaret Bleyberg-forsman
Many readers and critics consider SPEAK, MEMORY a masterpiece. Brian Boyd, the Nab’s pre-eminent biographer, for example, writes on randomhouse. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ethan Cooper