Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015602, Sat, 20 Oct 2007 18:20:27 -0400

SIGHTING: More references to VN in Musicophilia, by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks' new book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, contains
three mentions of VN.

Pg. 102: "Were there, I wondered, people with congenital amusia of an
equally extreme degree? I was startled to find the following passage in
Nabokov's autobiography, Speak, Memory: 'Music, I regret to say, affects me
merely as an arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds. . . .
The concert piano and all the wind instruments bore me in small doses and
flay me in larger ones.' I do not know what to make of this, for Nabokov is
such a jester, such an ironist, that one is never sure whether to take him
seriously. But it is conceivable, at least, that in the Pandora's box of his
multitudionous gifts there was, along with these, perhaps, a profound

Pg. 179: Nabokov . . . wrote of how as a child he saw all the letters of the
alphabet having distinct colors and was deeply upset when he was given a box
of colored letters and found that nearly all of them were the "wrong" color.
His mother, also a synesthete, agreed with him that the colors were wrong,
but not on what they should be. (Nabokov's wife, too, was a synesthete, as
is their son.)

Pg. 293: Perhaps "indifference" is not quite the word here and the the
Freudian term "resistance" would be nearer the mark--resistance to the
seductive and enigmatic power of music. And it may be that a similar
resistance underlay Nabokov's disdainful comment that music affected him
"merely as an arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds."

Matt Roth

Search the archive: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/archives/nabokv-l.html
Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm