NABOKV-L post 0012225, Mon, 19 Dec 2005 15:48:23 -0800

Fwd: Alphabet in Color now available!

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Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2005 15:04:14 -0500
From: David Hunter <>
Reply-To: David Hunter <>
Subject: Alphabet in Color now available!

Alphabet in Color
Text of Vladimir Nabokov illustrated by Jean Holabird, with a Foreword by
Brian Boyd 

Nabokov¹s colored sounds come to light

He saw q as browner than k, and s as not the light blue of c, but a curious
mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl

Vladimir Nabokov could hear color. As he described it ­

perhaps ³hearing² is not quite accurate, since the color sensation seems to
be produced by the very act of my orally forming a given letter while I
imagine its outline. The long a of the English alphabet . . . has for me the
tint of weathered wood, but a French a evokes polished ebony. This black
group also includes hard g (vulcanized rubber) and r (a sooty rag being
ripped). Oatmeal n, noodle-limp l, and the ivory-backed hand mirror of o
take care of the whites.

For anyone who has ever wondered how the colors Nabokov heard might manifest
themselves visually, Alphabet in Color is a remarkable journey of discovery.
Jean Holabird¹s interpretation of the colored alphabets of one of the
twentieth century¹s literary greats is a revelation. Nabokov saw rich colors
in letters and sounds and noted the deficiency of color in literature,
praising Gogol as the first Russian writer to truly appreciate yellow and

This book masterfully brings to life the charming and vibrant synesthetic
colored letters that until now existed only in Nabokov¹s mind. In Alphabet
in Color Jean Holabird¹s grasp of form and space blends perfectly with
Nabokov¹s idea that a subtle interaction exists between sound and shape. He
saw q as browner than k, while s is not the light blue of c, but a curious
mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl. . . . Dull green, combined somehow
with violet, is the best I can do for w.

In his playful foreword, Brian Boyd, ³the prince of Nabokovians³, points out
that an important part of ³Nabokov¹s passion for precision was his passion
for color.²

Vladimir Nabokov was the author of The Defense, Invitation to a Beheading,
The Gift,  Lolita, Pnin, Pale Fire, Ada and much, much more.

Jean Holabird is an artist based in New York and the author of Out of the
Ruins ­ A New York Record.

Brian Boyd is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of
English, University of Auckland.


Alphabet in Color
48 pages, Hardcover
226.25 x 170 mm landscape, 200 gsm Tintoretto paper, double flap binding in
Sirio cloth 74 color illustrations
$ 25.00

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