Speak, Memory by Vladamir Nabokov

735 Words 3 Pages
To some degree, every artist creates his or her own artistic life preserver, and in doing so resequences and conserves their own artistic DNA so that it may be transferred onto another generation. Vladimir Nabokov’s memoir Speak, Memory, is not only that preserver, but the tug boat that it holds onto, heavy and cramped with the memories and history that Nabokov retells his readers against the currents of time. Speak, Memory operates thematically, not chronologically. Nabokov returns anew to his early childhood and pulls in, as it were, the memories associated with certain themes. Then he turns, changes directions, and sets off again. One such theme that resonates throughout the novel is that of exile and deteterritorialization, both …show more content…
(79)” Even early on in his childhood, Nobokov found those “comfortable products of Anglo-Saxon civilization” as nothing more than useful necessities. The extinct “tradition learning” that is taken on by him is private multilingual tutorship, even if now it seems like a very pluralistic one as it included both Russian, English and French—at the same time. It is this because of this multilingual education that Nabokov encounters less wonder in terms of cultural conflicts that usually plights other exiles. Nabokov’s traditional aristocratic background accentuates many of his experiences abroad, he internalizes spiritual deteterritorialization and finds enjoyment within it. But it is also this spiritual deterritorialization that follows Nabokov throughout his life that makes his account of his life seem more artistic and disconnected, even if there is a profound emotional impact on the reader in the end. While some moments in his life might evoke sympathy, like his retelling of his father’s death, or make readers to take a side, such as the incident with Nesbit during his time in Cambridge, Nabokov keeps the reader at a distance by concealing his feelings in rhetoric. An example of this is the “short biography” (173) of his father. Using vivid details to describe his father, one can feel the spiritual resonance the experience had on Nabokov. “And behind it all there was yet a very special emotional abyss that I was

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