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Cohen 33

According to Boyd, Nabokov wanted his art to mimic the richness and detail

of nature, and his reader to apprehend and appreciate this intricacy more and more

with each re-reading (8-10). This process is one of "discovery," Boyd says, and is

aptly depicted by a passage in Speak, Memory where Nabokov describes, in terms of

the Hegelian triadic series of which he is so


a chess problem he "had been

trying to compose for months":

It was meant for the delectation of the very expert solver. The unsophisticated

might miss the point of the problem entirely, and discover its fairly simple,


solution without having passed through the pleasurable torments

prepared for the sophisticated one. The latter would start by falling for an

illusory pattern of play based on a fashionable avant-garde theme . . . which

the composer had taken the greatest pains to "plant". . . . Having passed

through this "antithetic" inferno the by now ultrasophisticated solver would

reach the simple key move (bishop to


as somebody on a wild goose chase

might go from Albany to New York by way of Vancouver, Eurasia and the

Azores. The pleasant experience of the roundabout route (strange landscapes,

gongs, tigers, exotic customs, the thrice-repeated circuit of a newly married

couple around the sacred fire of an earthen brazier) would amply reward him

for the misery of the deceit, and after that, his arrival at the simple key move

would provide him with a synthesis of poignant artistic delight. (qtd. in

Boyd 11)


In Speak,


Nabokov says that "the spiral is a spiritualized circle," one that "has been set


free" (275). He uses the triadic series here to model the stages of his life: the initial, childhood in Russia from 1899-1919; the second, "antithetic" arc his European "exile" from 1940; and the third, "synthetic"arc his residence in America from 1940-1960 (275).

arc is his


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