Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited Essay

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In the following essay, Alter explores how Nabokov pursues and manipulates the past through language in Speak, Memory.

In Nabokov's notoriously restricted private canon of great twentieth-century novelists—he admitted only Proust, Joyce, Kafka, and Biely—it is Proust who often seems most intimately allied with his own aims and sensibility. A pursuit of time past is undertaken directly or obliquely in many of his novels, and most centrally in what are probably his two finest books—Lolita and Speak, Memory. The autobiography is as Proustian as anything Nabokov wrote, and it even includes a little homage to Proust: Nabokov's last vision of Colette, his Riviera childhood sweetheart, rolling a hoop glinting in the autumnal sun through dead leaves in a Parisian park, is a citation, a transposition of pattern from fiction to autobiography, of the scene at the end of Swann's Way in which the...

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This section contains 4,413 words
(approx. 12 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited Study Guide
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Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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