Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Nabokovian handwriting

Handwriting, father and son:

Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory (1966).

The index entry for Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov in Speak, Memory is telling: “9–16, 19–310, passim .” In other words, every page with printed text. Nabokov’s father’s presence is everywhere.

Related reading
All OCA Nabokov posts (Pinboard)

comments: 2

misterbagman said...

As I read this, I was struck that of the few vivid memories I have of my father, his penmanship is prominent. A southpaw and a scientist,my father wrote in a functional block print style, perfectly uniform and tidy, slanting very slightly to the right. His "O" was a peaked oval, shaped like Bert's head from Sesame Street. But when he cared to, he wrote in a perfect cursive hand, and his signature was a work of precision art. Alas, he learned to drink and smoke as a very young man, while learning how not to eluded him until very near the end (and at 48, I will have outlived him in just one year). And so my memories also include the sharp reek of his unfiltered Pall Malls, and the more mellow smell of the smoke he exhaled, and his Aqua Velva aftershave, and his gentle, tobacco-enhanced baritone. Thanks for your reference to Nabokov,whose prose makes me feel small and impotent as a writer, but also inspires me; and thank you for making my own memory speak.

Michael Leddy said...

My father’s handwriting was in the back of my mind here. He had impeccable printing and cursive. I’ve never matched it. So Nabokov’s contrast was pretty exciting to me.

There’s a New Yorker essay somewhere about smells and fathers and memory. Wait — I found it: David Owen, “The Dime Store Floor.”

Your father was gone all too soon. I’m sorry for that but glad that Nabokov’s writing brought something back.