Dreaming in Nabokov

File Nov 10  11 13 38 PM

+ The New York Times: “Lolita is disgusting” - A 1958 REVIEW OF NABOKOV'S REFINED DEPRAVITY

A new Nabokov book is out that I'm interested in: Insomniac Dreams Experiments with Time by Vladimir Nabokov

+ “But Maybe?”: Immortality, Time, and Nabokov’s Dream Diary

In Insomniac Dreams: Experiments with Time by Vladimir Nabokov, the scholar Gennady Barabtarlo considers Nabokov’s ideas on dreams in detail. The basis of the book is a previously unpublished dream journal that Nabokov kept in 1964, after reading aeronautical engineer John Dunne’s early 20th-century treatise An Experiment with Time. In that book, Dunne sketched a theory that human consciousness was capable of tracking events both forward and backward in time, so that dreams might reflect future events in a perfectly logical sequence. He claimed that dreams contain “images of past experience and images of future experience blended together in approximately equal proportions.” This idea, Dunne argued somewhat ambitiously, “contains the first scientific argument for human immortality.

+ Vladimir Nabokov's dream diary reveals experiments with 'backwards timeflow'

For a period of 80 days, the author of Lolita wrote down everything he could remember of his dreams as soon as he woke up, amassing 118 index cards recording 64 dreams. The text is reproduced in the book Insomniac Dreams, alongside material placing the experiment in the context of his life and writing.

+ Best books of 2017 – part oneUtterly fascinating.

HighDef Nabokov

Lolita Blu-Ray
The last Lolita film recently had it's 20th anniversary and I've been waiting for an American blu-ray release of "Lolita" forever and a day.  I had given up but then I ran into a great release from Germany that was was the upgrade I was looking for. Here's the image difference between the DVD and this blu-ray.

+ Lolita: Behind the Scenes
SEEING 'LOLITA':"The remake of "Lolita" may never open in America" 
+ Interview: Dominique Swain, ‘Lolita’ Star in 1997 Remake 
+ NYT: Revisiting a Dangerous Obsession
+ Ennio Morricone - Love In The Morning / Lolita
Nabokov and the Movies

Essay: Lolita - Girly: Sarah K. Cleaver on Tumblr nymphet

Lolita Starter Pack

Memory, some say, is fate's shorthand

Direct interference in a person's life does not enter our scope of activity, nor, on the other, tralatitiously speaking, hand, is his destiny a chain of predeterminate links: some 'future' events may be linked to others, O.K., but all are chimeric, and every cause-and-effect sequence is always a hit-and-miss affair, even if the lunette has actually closed around your neck, and the cretinous crowd holds its breath. Vladimir Nabokov, Transparent Things

the sickening involutions and interpenetrations of space and time


“Whenever I start thinking of my love for 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 dreadful pitfalls of eternity, the unknowledgeable beyond the unknown, the helplessness, the cold, the sickening involutions and interpenetrations of space and time… When that slow-motion, silent explosion of love takes place in me, unfolding its melting fringes and overwhelming me with the sense of something much vaster, much more enduring and powerful than the accumulation of matter or energy in any imaginable cosmos, then my mind cannot but pinch itself to see if it is really awake. I have to make a rapid inventory of the universe, just as a man in a dream tries to condone the absurdity of his position by making sure he is dreaming. 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.”
Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

The only convincing love story

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.37.48 PM

Lolita is not about love, because love is always mutual; Lolita is about obsession, which is never, ever love, and Nabokov himself was so disappointed that people did not understand this and take away the right message… For how could anyone call this feeding frenzy of selfishness, devouring, and destruction “love”?
— In her preface to LOLITA, Mary Gaitskill reflects on a review by Vanity Fair’s Gregor von Rezzori in which he calls the novel: “The only convincing love story of the century”


We shall now discuss love.


We shall now discuss love.   

What powerful words, what weapons, are stored up in the mountains, at suitable spots, in special caches of the granite heart, behind painted surfaces of steel made to resemble the mottling of the adjacent rocks! But when moved to express his love, in the days of brief courtship and marriage, Hugh Person did not know where to look for words that would convince her, that would touch her, that would bring bright tears to her hard dark eyes! Per contra, something he said by chance, not planning the pang and the poetry, some trivial phrase, would prompt suddenly a hysterically happy response on the part of that dry-souled, essentially unhappy woman. Conscious attempts failed. If, as happened sometimes, at the grayest of hours, without the remotest sexual intent, he interrupted his reading to walk into her room and advance toward her on his knees and elbows like an ecstatic, undescribed, unarboreal sloth, howling his adoration, cool Armande would tell him to get up and stop playing the fool. The most ardent addresses he could think up - my princess, my sweetheart, my angel, my animal, my exquisite beast - merely exasperated her. “Why,” she inquired, “can’t you talk to me in a natural human manner, as a gentleman talks to a lady, why must you put on such a clownish act, why can’t you be serious, and plain, and believable?” But love, he said, was anything but believable, real life was ridiculous, yokels laughed at love. He tried to kiss the hem of her skirt or bite the crease of her trouserleg, her instep, the toe of her furious foot - and as he groveled, his unmusical voice muttering maudlin, exotic, rare, common nothings and every-things, into his own ear, as it were, the simple expression of love became a kind of degenerate avian performance executed by the male alone, with no female in sight - long neck straight, then curved, beak dipped, neck straightened again. It all made him ashamed of himself but he could not stop and she could not understand, for at such times he never came up with the right word, the right waterweed. 

— Vladimir Nabokov, Transparent Things

our brain is not an ideal organ for constant retrospection

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 6.26.32 PM

Jake & Dinos Chapman, One Day You Will No Longer Be Loved III, 2008 


Pure Time, Perceptual Time, Tangible Time, Time free of content and context, this, then, is the kind of Time described by my creature under my sympathetic direction. The Past is also part of the tissue, part of the present, but it looks somewhat out of focus. The Past is a constant accumulation of images, but our brain is not an ideal organ for constant retrospection and the best we can do is to pick out and try to retain those patches of rainbow light flitting through memory. The act of retention is the act of art, artistic selection, artistic blending, artistic re-combination of actual events. The bad memoirist re-touches his past, and the result is a blue-tinted or pink-shaded photograph taken by a stranger to console sentimental bereavement. The good memoirist, on the other hand, does his best! to preserve the utmost truth of the detail. One of the ways he achieves his intent is to find the right spot on his canvas for placing the right patch of remembered color. 

Vladimir Nabokov, Interview with Kurt Hoffman for the Bayerischer Rundfunk in 1971.

Anna Karenina


+ An A from Nabokov "It was officially called “European Literature of the Nineteenth Century,” but unofficially called “Dirty Lit” by the Cornell Daily Sun, since it dealt with adultery in Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary"

+ Books: 10 All-Time Greatest 1. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1878)

Nabokov allows that “the thing cannot be done: Tolstoy is homogeneous, is one,” and the “truth which he was ponderously groping for or magically finding just around the corner, was always the same truth — the truth was he and this he was an art.”

+ Reading “Anna Karenina”

Vladimir Nabokov died on this day in 1977

“A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader.”
Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature
+ “The Art of Translation” BY VLADIMIR NABOKOV: “Mr. Nabokov is in the habit of introducing any job of this kind which he undertakes by an announcement that he is unique and incomparable,” Wilson wrote in a 1965 review of Nabokov’s translation of Eugene Onegin, “and that everybody else who has attempted it is an oaf and an ignoramus.”
“Véra has blue eyes and a birdlike profile. Her hair is completely white. They are soon to celebrate a wedding anniversary, “our golden,” Nabokov says. They met in Berlin and married there in 1925, but they might as easily have met in Leningrad. “We went to the same dancing class, didn’t we?” he asks. It has not been an unhappy marriage then? “That is the understatement of the century,” Nabokov smiles.”
+ An Old Magician Named Nabokov Writes and Lives in Splendid Exile by James Salter

‘You’ll never be a writer.’

Nationality: without. Eyes: grey.

‘Mr. Nabokov, I want to be a writer.’ Nabokov looks up from his reading and points to a tree outside his office window.

‘What kind of tree is that?’ he asks the student.


‘What is the name of that tree?’ asks Nabokov. ‘The one outside my window.’

‘I don’t know,’ says the student.

‘You’ll never be a writer.’ says Nabokov.

 kinbote / wordmeds 

Reality is a very subjective affair

Reality is a very subjective affair. I can only define it as a kind of gradual accumulation of information; and as specialization. If we take a lily, for instance, or any other kind of natural object, a lily is more real to a naturalist than it is to an ordinary person. But it is still more real to a botanist. And yet another stage of reality is reached with that botanist who is a specialist in lilies. You can get nearer and nearer, so to speak, to reality; but you never get near enough because reality is an infinite succession of steps, levels of perception, false bottoms, and hence unquenchable, unattainable. You can know more and more about one thing but you can never know everything about one thing: it’s hopeless. So that we live surrounded by more or less ghostly objects— that machine, there, for instance. It’s a complete ghost to me— I don’t understand a thing about it and, well, it’s a mystery to me, as much of a mystery as it would be to Lord Byron.
Vladimir Nabokov

A work of art has no importance whatever to society

I want you to come live with me, and die with me, and everything with me.
Nabokov, LOLITA

+ NYT - Reading Lolita in Moscow: "A work of art has no importance whatever to society,” Vladimir Nabokov insisted. “It is only important to the individual, and only the individual reader is important to me.” Nabokov was in fact notoriously averse to groups or “movements” of any sort, whether political, artistic or social.

Humbert's association with a game is important, because Nabokov plays countless games with language. Humbert Humbert, of course, has a double name. John Ray, Jr. also has a double name of sorts (his initials are similar to his junior status). Nabokov parodies the German-influenced Doppelgänger tale throughout Lolita. The Doppelgänger tale pits one character against some kind of doubled version of himself; Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde is the premier example (and one greatly admired by Nabokov, who otherwise had great disdain for the Doppelgänger, calling it a "frightful bore"). One of his gripes is that the Doppelgänger makes moral divisions between the doubled pair absolutely clear; already we are subversively informed that the hero of Lolita is an immoral man.
summary and analysis

Why might Nabokov have chosen to name his protagonist “Humbert Humbert”? Does the name’s parodic double rumble end up distancing us from its owner’s depravity? Is it harder to take evil seriously when it goes under an outlandish name? What uses, comic and poetic, does Nabokov make of this name in the course of Lolita? reading group guide

eight hours of non-being

Brittany Nicol Fabry_1280
In less than a week Aqua had accumulated more than two hundred tablets of different potency. She knew most of them — the jejune sedatives, and the ones that knocked you out from eight p.m. till midnight, and several varieties of superior soporifics that left you with limpid limbs and a leaden head after eight hours of non-being, and a drug which was in itself delightful but a little lethal if combined with a draught of the cleansing fluid commercially known as Morona; and a plump purple pill reminding her, she had to laugh, of those with which the little gypsy enchantress in the Spanish tale (dear to Ladore schoolgirls) puts to sleep all the sportsmen and all their blood-hounds at the opening of the hunting season.
  Brittany Nicol Fabry