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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
interesting book..worthwhile and it clearly present the world before world communism..from a bourgeois point of view..Published 1 month ago by gilles Martin
I read "Speak, Memory" because it was recommended by many writers who advise other writers how to write memoir. It serves as a model of how to write a good memoir. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Timothy M. Tays, PhD
I did not enjoy this book, although some of the language painted interesting pictures. I felt no emotion. The pictures were interesting however.Published 6 months ago by puzzler
One of the great memoirs of all time, written by a giant of 20th Century literature. His evocations of his Russian childhood are magical. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Walter
The book was very difficult to get into and I gave up after about 1/3 of it. However, friends have said that it gets better, so I will try again. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mark
This edition is well done and clearly translated. I found his stories to be more easily understood and enjoyable. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jean K. Mansen
Delightful reading; superb phrasing; engaging. The pages slip away after the reader is captivated and put under a kind of spell. The writing is second to none.Published 11 months ago by Billy McGowan
A fantastic autobiography that sheds light on many of his novels. It is virtually a prose poem. I recommend it highly.Published 14 months ago by Dr. Thomas J. Langan
Light years below the superb writing of Lolita and Ada.
Nabokov here is too involved with his sparkling writing style. Read more