Hi, My name is Ryan and I will be blogging for the Block 6 class titled “Topics in Comparative Literature: Vladimir Nabokov”. This class will be focusing on the writings Vladimir Nabokov, the author most notoriously known for writing Lolita.
We spent the majority of our first week reading and reflecting on Nabokov’s autobiography Speak, Memory. Originally from St. Petersburg Russia, Nabokov would frequently move over the course his career. He would study in Cambridge, England, before living in Berlin, Paris, and eventually the United States.
His autobiography is much more intricate and complicated than just where has lived, and what he has accomplished, however. Nabokov writes passionately about various things that repeatedly occurred in the first part of his life: phantoms and ghosts, repeated childhood affairs, and searches for butterflies (he had some named after him). These details, we learn, will repeatedly pop up in his writings. His style of writing about himself is profound and poetic as he often prophesizes what it means to have and to live retroactively through memories.
After finishing this piece, the class is anticipating a block that savors Nabokov’s tasty and clever writing—a joy of the class is reading the passages out loud. So, talking about Nabokov’s writing isn’t complete without sharing a bit of it: “A sense of security, of well-being, of summer warmth pervades my memory. That robust reality makes a ghost of the present. The mirror brims with brightness; a bumblebee has entered the room and bumps against the ceiling. Everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change, nobody will ever die.”
Over the course of the block, we will be reading six of his novels. I’m looking forward to sharing more about the class, and about his writing!