Speak, Memory, By Vladimir Nabokov

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The Independent Culture

Published as an appendix to this new edition, Nabokov's own spoof review of his luscious autobiography calls it "the meeting point of an impersonal art form and a very personal history".

The aesthetics of memoir aside, Speak, Memory offers a gorgeous and beguiling account of a pampered Russian childhood broken into fragments of exile and loss by revolutionary upheaval after 1917.

From summer games on the family's estate near St Petersburg to punting on the Cam and chess problems in Berlin, these richly wrought scenes from a shattered idyll stay alert to the tricks of memory, even as they bathe in a nostalgic bliss.

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