Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003185, Sun, 21 Jun 1998 11:55:03 -0700

VN Sighting and Citing
In Friday's NY Times, in the Weekend Fine Arts/Leisure section, Michael
Kimmelman quotes a lengthy passage from SPEAK, MEMORY to help him define
the "dream world" of the paintings by Pierre Bonnard (whose retrospective
is opening today at the Museum of Modern Art):

Sarah Whitfield, the curator who organized this exhibition for the Tate
Gallery in London... suggests in the catalogue that we see these pictures
as images embalmed in memory. "These works crystalize what has always been
Bonnard's primary mood, that of elegy," she writes. ..."He is a painter of
the effervescence of pleasure and the disappearance of pleasure." Exactly.
Walking through the show, I suddenly recalled a favorite passage from
Nabokov's "Speak, Memory": Uncle Ruka finds some French children's books
from his own childhood in Nabokov's schoolroom. Nabokov comes across the
same books decades later, and they trigger the recollection of Ruka
recollecting his past: "I see again my schoolroom in Vyra, the blue roses
of the wallpaper, the open window. Its reflection fills the oval mirror
above the leathern couch where my uncle sits, gloating over a tattered
book. 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."

Galya Diment