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By Vladimir Nabokov

 

From one of many twentieth century's nice writers comes one of many most interesting autobiographies of our time. Speak, Memory used to be first released via Vladimir Nabokov in 1951 as Conclusive Evidence after which assiduously revised and republished in 1966. The Everyman's Library version comprises, for the 1st time, the formerly unpublished "Chapter 16"–the most vital unpublished piece of writing through the grasp, newly published via the Nabokov estate–which supplied a unprecedented perception into Speak, Memory.

 

Nabokov's memoir is a relocating account of a loving, civilized relations, of adolescent awakenings, flight from Bolshevik terror, schooling in England, and émigré existence in Paris and Berlin. The Nabokovs have been eccentric, liberal aristocrats, who lived a existence immersed in politics and literature on just right state estates till their global used to be swept away by way of the Russian revolution whilst the writer used to be eighteen years outdated. Speak, Memory vividly inspires a vanished earlier within the inimitable prose of Nabokov at his best.

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Elisabeth used to be a celebrated good looks. After divorcing her first husband, Justizrat Graun, the composer’s son, in 1795, she married the minor poet Christian August von Stägemann, and used to be the “motherly friend,” as my German resource places it, of a far better-known author, Heinrich von Kleist (1777–1811), who, at thirty-three, had fallen passionately in love along with her twelve-year-old daughter Hedwig Marie (later von Olfers). he's acknowledged to have referred to as at the relations, to claim adieu prior to touring to Wannsee—for the conducting of an enthusiastic suicide pact with a unwell lady—but used to be no longer admitted, it being laundry day within the Stägemann loved ones. The quantity and variety of contacts that my ancestors had with the area of letters are really amazing. Carl Heinrich Graun, the great-grandfather of Ferdinand von Korff, my great-grandfather, was once born in 1701, at Wahrenbrück, Saxony. His father, August Graun (born 1670), an exciseman (“Königlicher Polnischer und Kurfürstlicher Sächsischer Akziseneinnehmer”—the elector in query being his namesake, August II, King of Poland) got here from an extended line of parsons. His great-great-grandfather, Wolfgang Graun, used to be, in 1575, organist at Plauen (near Wahrenbrück), the place a statue of his descendant, the composer, graces a public backyard. Carl Heinrich Graun died on the age of fifty-eight, in 1759, in Berlin, the place seventeen years prior, the recent opera apartment had opened along with his Caesar and Cleopatra. He used to be essentially the most eminent composers of his time, or even the best, in response to neighborhood necrologists touched via his royal patron’s grief. Graun is proven (posthumously) status a little bit aloof, with folded fingers, in Menzel’s photograph of Frederick the nice enjoying Graun’s composition at the flute; reproductions of this saved following me via the entire German accommodations I stayed in in the course of my years of exile. i'm advised there's on the Sans-Souci Palace in Potsdam a latest portray representing Graun and his spouse, Dorothea Rehkopp, sitting on the related clavecin. Musical encyclopedias usually reproduce the portrait within the Berlin opera residence the place he appears to be like a great deal just like the composer Nikolay Dmitrievich Nabokov, my first cousin. An a laugh little echo, to the track of 250 funds, from all these concert events less than the painted ceilings of a guilded previous, blandly reached me in heil-hitlering Berlin, in 1936, whilst the Graun kin entail, essentially a suite of beautiful snuffboxes and different worthwhile knick-knacks, whose price after passing via many avatars within the Prussian country financial institution had diminished to 43,000 reichsmarks (about 10,000 dollars), was once dispensed one of the provident composer’s descendants, the von Korff, von Wissmann and Nabokov clans (a fourth line, the Counts Asinari di San Marzano, had died out). Baronesses von Korff have left their hint within the police documents of Paris. One, born Anna-Christina Stegelman, daughter of a Swedish banker, used to be the widow of Baron Fromhold Christian von Korff, colonel within the Russian military, a great-granduncle of my grandmother.

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