A Form of Magic, A Game of Enchantment and Deception
Catholics in low esteem; they went to\nchurch only on Easter or Christmas.\nH is earliest recollections were of learning\nhis letters---in English before Russian---and\nof discovering that each had a\ntexture and color of its own. His mother\nwas delighted; they shared that perception\nand even agreed on some. To the\nboy, a hard "g" was vulcanized rubber, a\nFrench "a" evoked polished ebony and\n"n" had the loose texture of oatmeal.\nMusic, which evoked visions to his\nmother, was merely an irritant to the\nboy, but his younger brother Sergey\ninherited that faculty. But Nabokov's\nfather was passionate in the pursuit of\nbutterflies, and the boy shared that delight.\nIn such an atmosphere, where every\ndesire could be gratified and pleasure\nwas not yet associated with guilt,\nNabokov learned the greatest of aristocratic\ntruths, and possessions lost that\ninordinate value they create in those who\ncannot have them. "I inherited," he said,\n"a sense of the beauty of intangible property,\nunreal estate---and this proved a\nsplendid training for the endurance of\nlater losses."\niVIademoiselle's arrival, when Nabokov\nwas so young, was, therefore, a recreation.\nHis vision of the station, the coachman,\nthe sleigh and even the night was a\ncreative act. Yet its truth is undeniable\nand his memories in general, equally\ncreative, are equally truthful. He inherited\nfrom his father an ability to recall\n"a patch of the past" in complete and\nminute color and detail. One such\nmoment,...
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