Sunday, August 21, 2011
This is a two-parter. I didn't even know this existed. Thank you, internet! I saw this on the East Portland Blog (more on that in a second) and couldn't resist. You know, Nabokov was famous for never speaking off-the-cuff. In Speak Memory, he describes all the hijinks involved just talking on the phone and how his language skills desert him in his hour of need. He wrote down just about everything he was going to say to anyone (except maybe his wife), so it's quite thrilling to see him in the midst of a discussion with Calvin Trilling and a host-guy who seems to possess a brain. Sure, he does a lot of stammering, but that's all part of his charm. What I've long dug about the guy (besides his ethereal writing) is his funky accent. He was a Russian who studied in England, settled in Germany, then France, the U.S. and finally Switzerland. While he tried very hard to sound English, he ends up sounding oddly Scandinavian. His Russian accent is very much in the background. I have a cassette of him reciting his poetry and reading from Lolita and it's quite intriguing to listen to, as he speaks in this very clipped way that makes him sound quite German. Anyhow, the guy was a genius. OK, so I don't care for Pale Fire at all, but The Gift, The Defense, Invitation to a Beheading and, of course, Lolita are all masterpieces.
Posted by Igor Keller