I confess I do believe in Nabokov


Awkwardly ashamed and a little sad that I have not written in so long, I have decided that I need to share that Nabokov has kept turning up in my life in unlikely ways recently. I’ve twisted his name about in my brain and found myself bringing up lines from his novels or snippets of things I’ve heard about his (to me, eccentric, exhilarating) life in otherwise unremarkable conversations. In the ways that I may sometimes even force his name or works into a conversation, it has come to remind me of the first signs of a school crush. So, I thought there may be no better place to write out a bit in his memory than through this aptly titled blog. I also realized that I never formally introduced Nabokov into this blog at all, despite the name. So, here is an excerpt from his memoir, Speak, Memory. About four years ago, while reading Speak, Memory for the first time, I underlined most of the words and phrases in this paragraph before just circling the entire section and scribbling a dark exclamation point in the margin. I’m holding the same copy that I received as a gift four years ago, and read almost entirely while pacing in my bright, empty dorm room in Germany. With the exception of more markings and wear, it’s still the same light, smooth-to-the touch tomb that I can only assume will always evoke the very same unable-to-sit-down-while-reading enchantment every time I remember to pull it from the shelf.

“I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip. And the highest enjoyment of timelessness- in a landscape selected at random- is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone. A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern- to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal.”