Saturday, 27 April 2013

Fiction Reads: Glory by Vladimir Nabokov

Glory by Vladimir Nabokov has a flavour of the persistence of memory and descriptions of places that leave the reader dumbfounded. There are several reasons why one feels this way: Nabokov's writings have a dream-like quality and an overwhelming feel of poetry. Glory is no different and it feels like a step into the real world, perhaps with the likening of the esoteric.

Nabokov wrote Glory between 1930 & 1932. He narrates the story of Martin Edelweiss (a half Russian and half Swiss youngster) who grows up in Russia before the days of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet era. His mother is an Anglophile and raises him in a literary overdose of British literature. With the onset of the Revolution and his parents' divorce, he moves with his mother to the Crimea and then to Switzerland. Note that his journey to Athens before his parents' divorce is wonderfully described with young Edelweiss experiencing the first pangs of love and romance.

The story sharpens the characterization of Edelweiss when he leaves for England to study at the University of Cambridge. This is where the story gains a momentum of emotions, experiences, changes, interactions and people. Upon reaching England, he is taken in by a family of Russian emigres, the Zilanovs. This is where and when he gives in to the flirtations and passion for Sonia, one of the Zilanov daughters. This is a one-sided infatuation and his love is unrequited so far.

Edelweiss moves back to Switzerland only to travel to France to work, back to Switzerland and then to Berlin. He meets Sonia now and then until he decides to allow himself to be dared.

What I loved about this book is this whole element of uncertainty and wondering what turn it would take towards the end: crossing the restricted geographical and precarious infinity and plain daring. I read the ending twice; just loved it and marveled at the whole description. It seemed like a photograph.

"He said something under his breath, rubbed his cheek pensively and walked on. The air was dingy, here and there tree roots traversed the trail, black fir needles now and then brushed against his shoulder, the dark path passed between the tree trunks in picturesque and mysterious surroundings." - Nabokov.

(Article by Kabita Sonowal)

No comments:

Post a Comment