One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nabokov's "Real Life"

Just a few bullets re things that pleased or tickled me (this time around) in Nabokov's (ECRIVAIN'S) The Real Life of Sebastian Knight:

  • and by the way how queer it is when you look at an old picture postcard (like the one I have placed on my desk to keep the child of memory amused for a moment) to consider the haphazard way Russian cabs had of turning whenever they liked, anywhere and anyhow, so that instead of the straight, self-conscious stream of modern traffic one sees--on this painted photograph--a dream-wide street with droshkies all awry under incredibly blue skies, which, farther away, melt automatically into a pink flush of mnemonic banality
  • home only meaning to her the comfort of constant change
  • a little black chess-knight drawn in ink
  • eucalyptus, its bark half stripped away, as seems to be always the case with this sort of tree
  • Lausanne
  • water-color view of Chillon castle
  • The Doubtful Asphodel
  • "submental grunt"
  • longed to say something real, something with wings and a heart, but the birds I wanted settled on my shoulders and head only later when I was alone and not in need of words
  • The eye-spot of his awakening
  • "Conradish" and suggested his leaving out the "con" and cultivating the "radish" in future works
  • things like that are the darlings of oblivion
  • Remember that what you are told is really threefold: shaped by the teller, reshaped by the listener, concealed from both by the dead man of the tale
  • X.'s inner world (which is no more than a tube-station during rush hours)
  • The Lethean Library, for all its incalculable volumes, is, I know sadly incomplete without Mr. Goodman's effort
  • the bridging of the abyss lying between expression and thought
  • a red-capped German gnome peeping bright-eyed at her from among the dead leaves of a hollow
  • "No, Leslie," says Sebastian from the floor, "I'm not dead. I have finished building a world, and this is my Sabbath rest."
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