Her intense and pure religiousness took the form of her having equal faith in the existence of another world and in the impossibility of comprehending it in terms of earthly life. All one could do was to glimpse, amid the haze and the chimeras, something real ahead, just as persons endowed with an unusual persistence of diurnal cerebration are able to perceive in their deepest sleep, somewhere beyond the throes of an entangled and inept nightmare, the ordered reality of the waking hour.
Whenever in my dreams, I see the dead, they always appear silent, bothered, strangely depressed, quite unlike their dear bright selves. I am aware of them, without any astonishment, in surroundings they never visited during their earthly existence, in the house of some friend of mine they never knew. They sit apart, frowning at the floor, as if death were a dark taint, a shameful family secret. It is certainly not then — not in dreams — but when one is wide awake, at moments of robust joy and achievement, on the highest terrace of consciousness, that mortality has a chance to peer beyond its own limits, from the mast, from the past and its castle-tower. And although nothing much can be seen through the mist, there is somehow the blissful feeling that one is looking in the right direction.
A sense of security, of well-being, of summer warmth pervades my memory. That robust reality makes a ghost of the present. The mirror brims with brightness; a bumblebee has entered the room and bumps against the ceiling. Everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change, nobody will ever die.
Speak, Memory: Vladimir Nabokov, 1951 (excerpts)
Bachalpsee in the morning, Bernese Alps: photo by ZachT, 2007
Forest area and prairie at Cooper Mountain Nature Park, Oregon: photo by Aboutmovies, 2009
Moore Nature Reserve, England: photo by andy, 2005
Mai Po Nature Reserve (panorama view): photo by Baycrest, 2009
Rozhdestveno, at Vyra, near Siverskaya, estate inherited by Vladimir Nabokov, 1916: photo by Alexey Lavrov, 2007
Speak, Memory, first UK edition cover, 1957: image by Graham Hardy, 2008