FROM NOW ON 4 - quenchless

by Susan Weber

Crouched over Nabokov’s stories, looking up words like ogival and quagginess, I wonder endlessly how his mind conjured up scenarios of such beguiling depth. The author was born of an upper class Russian family steeped in language and the sciences. In his youth, the family fled the revolution. Over time, Nabokov's writing drew critique from the Soviets, who accused him of literary snobbism, and Westerners who questioned his social convictions. That prior to his publishing successes he and his wife survived in Berlin by his teaching tennis, English, and Russian, and by her work as a translator, seems not to have mollified his detractors.

I’ve never liked the arrogance that wealth and privilege foist on the unsuspecting rich folk. The likes of me in Davos would wallow in a stew of judgement seeped through with pity for the woefully overindulged. I'd suffer envy, too, since who isn’t tempted by all that glitz? My biases suggest I should take a course in Russian lit whereby to flay this genius Nabokov and affix each golden nugget to a proper skewer for the academic roasting it deserves. Or, not. There is so much in one of his stories to delight this reader head to foot, why would I want to naysay his inventions and my affection for them?

Today brings sun after days of rain that seem like weeks. This is how I feel when I happen on a phrase like, “I think laughter is some chance little ape of truth astray in our world.” Maybe I’m too busy drinking verbal vitamins and minerals to spit on what sustains me. There is privilege in curiosity, this yearning of the wits, a stunning thirst that neither mounds of cash nor the gush of critical literary ostentation may quell. Vladimir Nabokov had this privilege in abundance. I’m pretty sure that’s the one I’m after.

Photo by Susan Weber CC BY-SA 4.0