Showing posts from November, 2017

Vladimir Nabokov's dream diary reveals experiments with 'backwards timeflow'

A 1964 diary in which Vladimir Nabokov recorded more than 50 of his dreams – ranging from the erotic to the violent to the surreal – is about to be published for the first time.

 “Intensely erotic dream. Blood on sheet,” the novelist writes on 13 December 1964. “End of dream: my sister O, strangely young and languorous … Then stand near a window, sighing, half-seeing view, brooding over the possible consequence of incest.”

Another entry sees him recording a dream in which he is dancing with his wife Vera. “Her open dress, oddly speckled and summery. A man kisses her in passing. I clutch him by the head and bang his face with such vicious force against the wall that he almost gets meat-hooked, on some fixtures on the wall (gleaming metal suggestive of ship). Detaches himself with face all bloody and stumbles away.”

The author, who struggled with insomnia all his life, began the dream diary after reading the British philosopher John Dunne’s An Experiment With Time, in which he advances a …

Writing Poetry Under Stalin: Samizdat And Memorization

At first, Anna Akhmatova, the Russian poet, worked on her poem in the usual way. She always composed by hand, writing out the lines on paper; then she would make corrections and perhaps read the lines aloud to see if they sounded right. Normally, she would produce a fair copy and send it to a magazine, or put it aside until a whole cycle of poems had emerged and then approach a book publisher. Before the Great War, she had published several volumes in this way, to great acclaim. She had become a celebrated poet in Russia while still in her early twenties, a dashing figure with her long shawls, black hair, and a bearing that betrayed her aristo­cratic heritage. In Paris, she had made the acquaintance of Amedeo Modigliani, a painter already confident of his future success, and he had fallen for her. Modigliani produced several drawings and paintings of the young Akhmatova that captured the elegant lines and distinct features of the poet whom critics would soon call the Russian Sappho.