Three Saturdays: February 4, 11, 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET Online
“I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Hailed as a masterpiece in 1940, the magic carpet of Speak,Memory still transports readers more than 80 years later.
Composed, published, and revised as separate pieces over the course of three decades, Speak, Memory depicts Nabokov’s charmed childhood in pre-Revolutionary Russia, and concludes with young Vladimir’s entrance into the ranks of the intelligentsia at Cambridge University and Paris before his new life in America.
Between ransacking dreams for “keys and clues,” channeling the dead, and chasing butterflies over two centuries and three continents of creeks and forests, Nabokov sought to stir the memories of his readers as much as himself. Nabokov’s vignettes expand upon Woolf’s “moments of being,” depicting characters and scenes with a sentience that rises above the written page, and ripples in the air.
Speak, Memory is a text which resonates with personal history. We’ll relish the style and synesthesia of Speak, Memory, lingering over small morsels of prose, travelling from “sun fleck to sun fleck,” as we read for effects and “the awakening of consciousness” in the author, as well as ourselves. Sven Birkerts’s companion study of Nabokov’s autobiography will aid us in finding those passages of special meaning.
Note: With the hope that both readers and writers will be inspired by Nabokov’s textured treatment of the past, each session will conclude with one writing exercise to take home. Participants in the class are encouraged to apply Nabokov’s narrative techniques to their own memoir-making.
Please note new dates: Three Saturdays: February 4, 11, 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET Online
Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited, by Vladimir Nabokov (9780679723394)
Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory: Bookmarked, by Sven Birkerts (9781632461070)
Nicole Miller's prize-winning essays have appeared recently in New Letters and Arts & Letters magazines. Her fiction has been published twice in The Mays, edited by Jill Paton Walsh and Sebastian Faulks. She received an M.Phil. in Victorian Literature from Lincoln College, Oxford; a PhD in English at University College, London; and an MFA at Emerson College, Boston, where she held the Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. At The Oxford English Dictionary, she has served as a scholarly reader for British Dialects since 2002. She edits faculty manuscripts in Harvard’s English Department and teaches nineteenth and twentieth century British literature at Politics and Prose in Washington D.C.
REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.