The Memoirist against History: Nabokov’s Speak, Memory as the (re)negotiation of a literary form at the intersection of personal experience and historical narrative
Nabokov’s Speak, Memory is a literary memoir that negotiates the relationship between history and personal experience by illuminating one end of a spectrum of authoritative effects that range from artifice to spontaneity. In using play to leverage and highlight the tension between the artifice of a work of literature and the spontaneity of personal expression (or sense making on an individual level,) and by implicating both reader and writer within that tension, it demonstrates how literary memoir can negotiate its relationship to its genre. There are thus two forms of negotiation at work in Speak, Memory, the one between artifice and spontaneity, the other between individual experience and historical narrative. In this way, by using play to invite the reader into the interpretative act, Nabokov emphasises the role of artifice in the autobiographical project, and, by doing so, stakes out a claim for the literary autobiographical writer in the face of historical narrative.
Copyright (c) 2019 Michael Sala
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).