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Speak Memory Audiobook

Speak Memory: An Autobiography Revisited

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Audible Editor Reviews

This audiobook pairs two classic voices — the distinctive turns of phrase of seminal Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov and the equally recognizable baritone of prolific narrator Stefan Rudnicki. Speak Memory, a book of autobiographical essays first collected in 1951, has been hailed as one of the best works of nonfiction in the 20th-century. The tight connection between masterful prose and richly contemplative voice work assures that nothing in this fascinating self-treatment is lost upon the listener.

Nabokov spends little time discussing his writing, but his creative processes are spectacularly evident as he examines his own life from the history of his parents up through his immigration to the United States in 1940. Rudnicki captures all the little excitements of boyhood, from building forts to the first summertime crush, and hobbies of chess and butterflies that would become Nabokov's lifelong obsessions. On the run first from the czar and then from revolutionary Russian politics, Nabokov led a very international young life that parallels Rudnicki's own travels, making the accents particularly on point. Rudnicki's Polish heritage affords him the slightly drawn out Slavic vowels, and he displays an impressive command of the author's several languages — English, Russian, French, and even a bit of German.

What emerges is a nuanced portrait of an exceptional and unique figure in literary history whose powers of delicate perception are thankfully matched by Rudnicki's precise and vibrant interpretation. Rendered in a charismatic style deeply befitting a man as charming as Nabokov, there is a lot to love in this audiobook. Even those who have already long treasured the text will find this a worthwhile listen. One cannot say that it sounds like Nabokov doing the reading, but if the author had a choice in the matter, surely Stefan Rudnicki delivers the resonant voice that Nabokov would have chosen for his audio avatar. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

From one of the 20th century's great writers comes one of the finest autobiographies of our time. Speak, Memory, first published in 1951 as Conclusive Evidence and then assiduously revised in 1966, is an elegant and rich evocation of Nabokov’s life and times, even as it offers incisive insights into his major works, including Lolita, Pnin, Despair, The Gift, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, and The Luhzin Defense.

One of the 20th century’s master prose stylists, Vladimir Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg in 1899. He studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, where he launched a brilliant literary career. In 1940 he moved to the United States, and achieved renown as a novelist, poet, critic, and translator. He taught literature at Wellesley, Stanford, Cornell, and Harvard. In 1961 he moved to Montreux, Switzerland, where he died in 1977.

©1947-1951, 1967 Vladimir Nabokov (P)2010 Audible, Inc

What the Critics Say

"Beguiling and superbly produced, this bittersweet rendition will appeal to lovers of Nabokov and those experiencing their first taste." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Michael Greenstein Dobbs Ferry, NY 09-21-14
    Michael Greenstein Dobbs Ferry, NY 09-21-14 Member Since 2008

    greeniad

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    "Very interesting and provocative"

    Nabakov is a master with words and he can weave a scene with exquisite detail. But then you could say this about all of his work. It was interesting to learn of his early life and which events he chose to reveal (and by omission, those he chose not to tell). Certainly worthwhile if you are familiar with his work and want to know more about the man.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Jonathan BOULDER, Colorado 06-17-14
    Jonathan BOULDER, Colorado 06-17-14

    Jooj

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    "Insufferably snobbish."
    What disappointed you about Speak Memory?

    What is it about Russian writers who extol their heritage, their lineage? I could not care less how fancily Nabokov was raised and who is lofty ancestors were. I used to love Nabokov when I was a kid and read just about everything he wrote, but now, in my old age, I think he's a gloating windbag.


    Has Speak Memory turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I won't be reading a poetic autobiography again.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The reader captured Nabokov's snobbishness perfectly.


    What character would you cut from Speak Memory?

    Nabokov


    Any additional comments?

    Skip this book unless you are an absolute devotee.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KMNNY 05-21-14
    KMNNY 05-21-14 Member Since 2015

    Faulkner, zombies, pandemics, Hillary Mantel, Linda Barry, Atwood, time travel, and Karr, I'm all over the map.

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    "I love Nabokov, but this... not so much"

    This is one of the dullest memoirs I have ever read (I've read hundreds). The narrator is very self-conscious and doesn't help the tedious content and monotony of the text. I love Nabokov and was surprised he was so bad at his own story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Earnest 06-29-15
    Earnest 06-29-15
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    "Speechless with awe, devastated that the listen has finished."

    How churlish I now feel for having almost deliberately avoided all of Nabokov's writing because of a " seedy" Hollywood film, purportedly resembling his novel,"Lolita."
    The mistakes have now been corrected.
    Nabokov's writing is inestimably beautiful and at times, heart rendingly moving. It is impossible not to feel the resonance in one's life, to smell the roses through the window, to hear the losses over the whirring of butterflies' wings. My life will always be better because I have listened to this and I know most all of his work now.
    I recommend this to those who are not daunted by previously untraversed surroundings and who haven't lost their sense of wonder when they hear words that are as embracing as the very best of music.

    I will never look at most anything the same way again. I have learnt so much about chess, babies, butterflies and the golden years of life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    claire berkeley, CA, United States 10-17-14
    claire berkeley, CA, United States 10-17-14 Member Since 2016
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    "the american accent is so wrong….."

    nabokov is one of my favorite writers, and there are passages of "speak, memory" that are among my favorite in literature, like the recollection of his mother returning from a mushroom hunt.
    But I couldn't get through this - the accent is so wrong for this.
    I really tried, but it ruined it for me

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-10-12
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    "Well-spoken!"
    Would you listen to Speak Memory again? Why?

    of course! the reader's voice is exceptional! as is of course any writing by Nabokov!


    What other book might you compare Speak Memory to and why?

    I practically never listen to any audiobooks therefore cannot compare.


    Have you listened to any of Stefan Rudnicki’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I haven't heard his other performances. Bound to be as sterling as this one, am certain.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I never listen to anything in one sitting, no matter how terrific. I like to spread it across time to extend the pleasure, like reading a good book.


    Any additional comments?

    The Voice! Simply supreme!! Commanding! powerful!

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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