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  • Nabokov

    — By Alice on May 21, 2010

    I have just finished reading Vladimir Nabokov’s Mary. It’s just a short story, but is a great example of the way in which his descriptions capture the mood of a character perfectly. It’s done so that the reader feels as though they are the character, and he has us sympathising with characters like Humbert Humbert in Lolita , and Ganin in this piece of work – neither of whom is all that appealing.

    This is a passage that stood out for me.

    He was in the kind of mood that he called “dispersion of the will.” He sat motionless at his table unable to decide what to do: to shift the position of his body, to get up and wash his hand, or to open the window, outside which the bleak day was fading into twilight. It was a dreadful, agonizing state rather like that dull sense of unease when we wake up but at first cannot open our eyelids, as though they were stuck together for good. Ganin felt that the murky twilight which was gradually seeping into the room was also slowly penetrating his body, transforming his blood into fog, and that he was powerless to stop the spell that was being cast on him by the twilight.
    He was powerless because he had no precise desire, and this tortured him because he was vainly seeking something to desire. He could not even make himself stretch out his hand to switch on the light. The simple transition from intention to action seemed an unimaginable miracle.

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