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The Rise of the Memoir$
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Alex Zwerdling

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755784.001.0001

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Remembering in Stages

Remembering in Stages

Nabokov’s Speak, Memory

(p.112) 5 Remembering in Stages
The Rise of the Memoir

Alex Zwerdling

Oxford University Press

Nabokov’s memoir was written and rewritten over half his adult life, first as a series of essays published serially, then as a book called Conclusive Evidence, finally as a radically revised autobiography, Speak, Memory. The project expanded as his life was transformed in permanent exile from his native Russia: in Western Europe, in America, and finally in a return to the neutral zone of Switzerland, where Nabokov reconnected with his surviving family. The ground shifts from a story of individual growth, loss, and displacement to a reincarnation of a vanished world, resurrected in palpable detail, resuscitating the group life of a family, a particular time, place, and milieu in its recovered sensory immediacy and emotional resonance. The final version moves from the development of the solitary self to a more inclusive vision, a representative tale of catastrophic uprooting, displacement, and recuperation.

Keywords:   reminiscence, factual basis, versions, serial publication, catastrophic loss

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