Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001262, Mon, 2 Sep 1996 11:07:49 -0700

Calculations (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE: VN's childhood gift for mental calculation was almost
certainly related to his synaesthesia and, as I have suggested
elsewhere, his phenomenal, multi-modal memory. Eidetic memory, mental
calculation, and synaesthesia are all somehow inter-related.
From: Ben Walsh <benw@meta.dublin.iona.ie>

I read in Dr Oliver Sachs' book "An Anthropologist on Mars" that VN was
gifted with incredible calculating ability until an illness at the age of
seven which deprived him of this. Does anyone have any information on this
and, in particular, his own thoughts on the matter? I see VN as a man who
was fascinated by the nature of identity and "selfness". Consider "Pale
Fire", where the reader is tantalised by clues as to the identity of its
editor, and must struggle to comprehend from half-glimpsed, second-hand
titbits the nature of his relationship with his subject. In "Bend Sinister"
the identities of the Toad as taunted schoolboy and dictator each contain in
the other elements which are at once detached & recognisable. I would have
thought that such an ability, which is usually described as being completely
incomprehensible to the person who possesses it, would have fascinated him:
the idea that parts of his mind were at work at a level unfathomable to his

Does anyone know further or have any further thoughts?