Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015827, Sat, 22 Dec 2007 08:21:04 -0500

The gift of culture ...
*The Australian* <http://theaustralian.news.com.au/>


*The gift of culture*

Christopher Pearson | *December 22, 2007*

*MIDDLE age is a much more rewarding business than I was led to expect.*
Not least of its pleasures are the friendships that develop with bright
young adults you first tentatively encountered 20 years ago at the font, as
a godfather, and the honorary nieces and nephews whose parents have been
numbered among your closer friends since student days.

A couple of my favourites are undergraduates and at this time of year
they're wont to ask: what should we read, watch and listen to over the
summer holidays? This tends to bring on an extended session of all-time
favourites and Desert Island Discs, a diverting game that the extended
family can play and a good way of sorting out suitable Christmas presents.
There are a few unwritten rules. It's expected the young will make a
reasonable effort to take on some of what's on the list and be ready to talk
about what they've enjoyed. In turn, their elders will bear in mind the
vicissitudes of their own misspent youth and try not to set impossible

[ ... ]
Vladimir Nabokov was an aristocratic Russian emigre writer who wrote as
perfectly in English as he did in his native tongue or indeed in French.
He's an eminent novelist but it's often said that his most enchanting and
accessible book is his memoir, Speak, Memory. He grew up in a privileged
household in pre-revolutionary times. His uncle's death left him briefly
extremely rich, but it's the passing of a highly civilised world and the
triumph of barbarism, rather than the fortune, that he regrets. Friends old
enough to remember Moscow and St Petersburg before World War I have assured
me there's no better account of the era in English.

[ ... ]

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