Monday, December 19, 2016

Reading Nabokov


Detail of the cover for one of the editions of Ada

I haven't read any Nabokov in awhile, so I am treating myself this holiday season to reading Ada. I have a list of favorite authors in my head, and from time to time I read another book by one of my favorites.

Eric Wagner has told me the footnotes in Pale Fire provided some of the inspiration for the footnotes in The Widow's Son. Wagner does not remember RAW discussing any of Nabokov's other work; if anyone has any information, please chip in.

I started reading Nabokov in high school, when I was actually assigned Despair in my creative writing class, and loved it. The other Nabokov books I've read are Pale Fire (my favorite so far, and I've read it more than once); Lolita; King, Queen, Knave; Glory; Laughter in the Dark and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. Obviously, I have quite a few other books left to read.

Ada Online has very detailed annotations of Ada (Nabokov's longest novel) by Brian Boyd, his chief biographer. I am doing my best to ignore the site while I actually read the book. But I wanted to share that April 23 is one of the motifs in the book, and Boyd says that the date is Nabokov's birthday. Click "Motifs" at the site and scroll down to "April 23."

Synchronicity of the day: Eric, an English teacher in California, subscribes by email to a "Word of the Day." Minutes after I first posted this, he forwarded today's "Word," which is "cordate," with the subject line, "Check out the first citation." I looked, and the first citation is the obit for Vladimir Nabokov published in the New York Times: "He also wrote at 15, his first poem after seeing a raindrop cause a cordate leaf to flutter." (Cordate means heart shaped, as with a shell, or a leaf.)


6 comments:

Eric Wagner said...

Interesting post. I would love for you to host a Pale Fire discussion group. I think Mike Johnson also said he liked the idea. I think Bob would have liked the idea too.

[I still seem like a robot so bloody much of the time.]

Manic The Doodler said...

Nabokov is an author I've read about & have been interested in reading but haven't read any of his books yet. I also like the idea of a Pale Fire (or any of his books) discussion group...

Rarebit Fiend said...

Ada is my favorite Nabokov, I read it the summer after I graduated high school while at the beach with my then girlfriend, so it has all sorts of romantic connotations in my mind. Van's discourse on time, you'll know when you get to it, always reminded me of Borges.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Second synchronicity today: I had to get in line at the post office because I had to buy extra postage for one of my Christmas cards. I had a stamp on the envelope, but I needed another stamp. The postal worker said, "I have a butterfly for you," then put a stamp with a butterfly on my envelope.

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