Monday, September 14, 2009

I have been (re)reading Lolita as we were instructed to do over the weekend, but I thought I'd go ahead and post an entry on Speak Memory since we will be moving on to other works(yet one never truly "finishes" something; it is always there. Speak Memory is no different).

I was momentarily thrown when I reached chapter 15, since N. abruptly begins to address a specific 'you', as if in conversation, which he hasn't done really in the preceeding chapters, and which is sustained throughout chapter 15. However, I quickly came to realize that the 'you' he is addressing is his wife Vera; all the numerous references to the shared experiances with "our baby" and "our child". One gets the impression that he felt very deeply about her, about their young son. N. is sometimes dismissed, I've noticed, as being as being "only" a stylist and nothing more(we in the Major Authors course have perhaps already come to realize how misguided such a criticism is). But, chapter 15 in Speak Memory offers examples of how his intensely ornate and intricate way of putting things brings deep real emotion to the front and center. Instead of saying something banal like "I love my wife and our child very much.", N. gives this...

"Whenever I start thinking of my love of a person, I am in the habit of immediately drawing radii from my love--from my heart, from the tender nucleus of a personal matter--to monstrously remote points of the universe. Something impels me to measure the consciousness of my love against such unimaginable and incalculable things as the behavior of nebulae(whose very remoteness seems a form of insanity), the dreadfull pitfalls of eternity, the unknowledgeable beyond the unknown, the helplessness, the cold, the sickening involutions and interpenetrations of space and time.It is a pernicious habit, but I can do nothing about it...I have to have all space and all time participate in my emotion, in my mortal love, so that the edge of its mortality is taken off, thus helping me to fight the utter degradation, ridicule, and horror of having developed an infinity of sensation and thought within a finite existence." (pg.232, Speak Memory, chapter 15, section 1)

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