I pride myself with having discerned even then the symptoms of what is so clear today, when a kind of family circle has gradually been formed, linking representatives of all nations, jolly empire-builders in their jungle clearings, French policemen, the unmentionable German product, the good old churchgoing Russian and Polish pogromshchik, the lean American lyncher, [and] the man with the bad teeth who squirts antiminority stories in the bar or the lavatory…
-Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Reading Lolita for the first time some years ago I thought to myself that it could have done without the last hundred pages. Then I read the afterword from Nabokov and he writes that some idiots think the book is a hundred pages too long! I felt pretty stupid, but not as stupid as if I had read his 999-line poem Pale Fire and omitted the forward and commentary. It could have happened. I’m sure it’s happened to some people.
I love Nabokov. I love his bleak humour, and I love that he wrote in English as a Russian to rival the great English-language authors. In fact, he is for me one of the great English-language authors. But most of all I love him for his use of unreliable narrators. It’s a feature in pretty much all his novels, all the ones I’ve read so far anyway, and it hasn’t gotten old yet. I’m about half way through.
Speak, Memory is supposed to be an autobiography. It probably won’t but I hope it also turns into an unreliable history! (I also love punctuation in titles.)
-Reading the Why