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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
Very good. But a bit too convoluted and full of unfamiliar words. A dictionary at hand is most helpful when reading it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by J. Staber
I loved the rich evocative use of language. He creates a wonderful sense of place and time. I found the information about butterflies a little detailed - but recognize this is a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Hope
This is my first reading of his book. I like it. Although, he used lot of Russian terms that I didn't understand. I hope, readers will like it.Published 2 months ago by Kamrul
Nabokov is letting us into his most private early thoughts and upbringing, an experience like few others. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jean Gross
Densely packed so at bit tedious at times, but stay with it. Worth the read.Published 3 months ago by Karen Rizzo
I've found this book hard to read due to its style and formidable vocabulary. I am now reading it for the second time, something that I've never done before. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Hon Cheung Yu
Unconventional but deeply revealing memoir of the author's early years. Sonorous prose of astonishing beauty.Published 4 months ago by Baxter