Lolita! 3rd time's the charm

June 3, 2017

And here is  Lolita, p. 39, leaping up, suddenly, into its place near the top of my favorite prose pages ever written, or at least discovered by me.


Of course it’s in a battle with a few of Nabokov’s own passages from Conclusive Evidence (of his having existed), and the tough-to-ever-unseat Romeo and Juliet balcony scene (which is not actually prose. haha. Maybe not a fair fight.)

And while I adored Anna Karenina this spring, nothing in Nabokov's favorite Russian novel came within a country mile of matching this. (Sorry, Tolstoy.)

I blew up and framed a slightly-abbreviated version of this extraordinary passage from Conclusive Evidence on my wall, so I can relive the magic of it endlessly — of the wistful memories it captures from my own childhood and the power it demonstrates inherent in prose: 

 

 
"I then had the fantastic pleasure of creeping through that pitch-dark tunnel, where I lingered a little to listen to the singing in my ears — that lonesome vibration so familiar to small boys in dusty hiding places — and then, in a burst of delicious panic, on rapidly thudding hands and knees I would reach the tunnel’s far end, push its cushion away, and be welcomed by a mesh of sunshine on the parquet under the canework of a Viennese chair and two gamesome flies settling by turns. A dreamier and more delicate sensation was provided by another cave game . . .

The recollection of my crib, with its lateral nets of fluffy cotton cords, brings back, too, the pleasure of handling a certain beautiful, delightfully solid, garnet-dark crystal egg left over from some unremembered Easter; I used to chew a corner of the bedsheet until it was thoroughly soaked and then wrap the egg in it tightly, so as to admire and re-lick the warm, ruddy glitter of the snugly enveloped facets that came seeping through with a miraculous completeness of glow and color. But that was not yet the closest I got to feeding upon beauty."

 

Wow. I've spent half my writing career feeding on that beauty.

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