Book review: ‘Speak, Memory’ by Vladimir Nabokov

‘Speak, Memory’ by Vladimir Nabokov

I seldom read fiction, so haven’t read any of Nabokov’s novels. Speak, Memory isn’t a novel but a memoir. It describes Nabokov’s childhood and youth in a privileged Russian family, and the early days following his emigration to the West during the Russian Civil War. The book kept being mentioned again and again in the books and websites I read, so I thought it was about time I read it. And a damn fine read it turned out to be.

Speak, Memory’s inspired title sums up Nabokov’s approach to this memoir: searching the depths of his memory for the facts, and admitting when he’s unsure. The book is written in immaculate, precise English, even though English wasn’t Nabokov’s native language. I assume this accounts for the text’s slightly otherworldly nature, which I enjoyed immensely, although I did occasionally find it a bit too florid for my liking.

Deservedly seen as a classic.

Note: I will receive a small referral fee if you buy this book via one of the above links.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

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