A Little Nabokov For These Hot Days

On days like this it's best to get lost in the shade, and Nabokov's shade is as wonderous as it comes. My relief to you from nature's discomfort (wherever you are) in the ocean of literature...

The greatest opening of a novel written in the English Lanuage:

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms, she was always Lolita."


[I was] born in 1910, in Paris. My father was a gentle, easy-going person . . . a Swiss citizen, of mixed French and Austrian descent, with a dash of the Danube in his veins. I am going to pass around in a minute some lovely, glossy-blue picture-postcards. He owned a luxurious hotel on the Riviera.

A Swiss citizen . . . that dash of the Danube . . . those “lovely, glossy-blue picture-postcards”! That Rivieran hotel! That eye for the minute detail! Details that render everyday boringness, ironically, beautiful; or do I mean ironically beautiful? “This capacity,” Nabokov said, marveling (not for the only time) at himself, “to wonder at trifles—no matter the imminent peril—these asides of the spirit, these footnotes in the volume of life are the highest form of consciousness.”


I recall one particular sunset. It lent an ember to my bicycle bell. Overhead, above the black music of telegraph wires, a number of long, dark-violet clouds lined with flamingo pink hung motionless in a fan-shaped arrangement; the whole thing was like some prodigious ovation in terms of color and form. It was dying, however, and everything else was darkening, too; but just above the horizon, in a lucid, turquoise space, beneath a black stratus, the eye found a vista that . . . occupied a very small sector of the enormous sky and had the peculiar neatness of something seen through the wrong end of a telescope. There it lay in wait, a family of serene clouds in miniature, an accumulation of brilliant convolutions, anachronistic in their creaminess and extremely remote; remote but perfect in every detail; fantastically reduced but faultlessly shaped; my marvelous tomorrow ready to be delivered to me.

Nabokov - "Speak Memory"

Nothing more to say; Nabokov says it...

Quotes taken from Roger Boylan's "Nabokov's Gift" The Boston Review