Nabokov’s Letters to Vera

Vera, was the wife of one of my favorite writers to ever exist; Vladimir Nabokov. She was also his editor, assistant and secretary, as well as a source of inspiration of many of his literary works. With Vera by his side supporting his work, Nabokov published 18 novels between 1926 and 1974 (both in Russian and English).

In July of 1923, a little more than two months after they met, Vladimir writes to Véra:

I won’t hide it: I’m so unused to being — well, understood, perhaps, — so unused to it, that in the very first minutes of our meeting I thought: this is a joke… But then… And there are things that are hard to talk about — you’ll rub off their marvelous pollen at the touch of a word… You are lovely…

[…]

Yes, I need you, my fairy-tale. Because you are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought — and about how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds.

[…]

See you soon my strange joy, my tender night.

In November, he wrote:

How can I explain to you, my happiness, my golden wonderful happiness, how much I am all yours — with all my memories, poems, outbursts, inner whirlwinds? Or explain that I cannot write a word without hearing how you will pronounce it — and can’t recall a single trifle I’ve lived through without regret — so sharp! — that we haven’t lived through it together — whether it’s the most, the most personal, intransmissible — or only some sunset or other at the bend of a road — you see what I mean, my happiness?

And I know: I can’t tell you anything in words — and when I do on the phone then it comes out completely wrong. Because with you one needs to talk wonderfully, the way we talk with people long gone… in terms of purity and lightness and spiritual precision… You can be bruised by an ugly diminutive — because you are so absolutely resonant — like seawater, my lovely.

I swear — and the inkblot has nothing to do with it — I swear by all that’s dear to me, all I believe in — I swear that I have never loved before as I love you, — with such tenderness — to the point of tears — and with such a sense of radiance.

nabokov_vera_letter1923

Vladimir’s letter to Véra from November 8, 1923

Most of all I want you to be happy, and it seems to me that I could give you that happiness — a sunny, simple happiness — and not an altogether common one…

I am ready to give you all of my blood, if I had to — it’s hard to explain — sounds flat — but that’s how it is. here, I’ll tell you — with my love I could have filled ten centuries of fire, songs, and valor — ten whole centuries, enormous and winged, — full of knights riding up blazing hills — and legends about giants — and fierce Troys — and orange sails — and pirates — and poets. And this is not literature since if you reread carefully you will see that the knights have turned out to be fat.

I simply want to tell you that somehow I can’t imagine life without you…

I love you, I want you, I need you unbearably… Your eyes — which shine so wonder-struck when, with your head thrown back, you tell something funny — your eyes, your voice, lips, your shoulders — so light, sunny…

You came into my life — not as one comes to visit … but as one comes to a kingdom where all the rivers have been waiting for your reflection, all the roads, for your steps.

In a letter from December 30 to Vera, he writes:

I love you very much. Love you in a bad way (don’t be angry, my happiness). Love you in a good way. Love your teeth…

I love you, my sun, my life, I love your eyes — closed — all the little tails of your thoughts, your stretchy vowels, your whole soul from head to heels.

Vera and Vladimir Nabokov, 1968 (photographer: Philippe Halsman) via: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

Vera and Vladimir Nabokov, 1968 (photographer: Philippe Halsman) via: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Véra_Nabokov

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/04/the-legend-of-vera-nabokov-why-writers-pine-for-a-do-it-all-spouse/359747/

http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

12 a.m – 6 a.m

Every one was busy outside
and every thing was happening
In this hour of darkness in the city

It was drizzling outside
Almost full moon
And they were alone
on a couch
leather boots off
She was in his hoodie

It felt like there’s a pianist in a corner
flowery gardens beneath their feet
And constellations dancing in the ceiling

 

© 2014 ALIA SULTAN

My Earth

Leave your doubts behind
And follow my steps

I don’t know where I’m going
But I heard it’s safe

They said you should
leave everything behind
Just carry a compass in your pocket
the rainy nights you admired
and an adventurous heart

Because you see
we are going to a land
inhabited by nonsense
and governed by the stars

Close your eyes
I’ll take you there

© 2014 ALIA SULTAN

She’s Complicated

I hope you

don’t choke on your words

and I hope you

have the courage to tell her

that she’s complicated

and that she

shouldn’t be ashamed of that

because

that’s what makes her beautiful

© 2014 ALIA SULTAN

Paradise; Here

Around the waters of the pond

Which we choose to go to

In the midst of a faraway forest

Among all the million places we can go to

we gravitate back to that pond

 

Here, in this hour of darkness

where the atmosphere is

magically impassioned and silent

This is how souls entwine

 

Here and now, you and I

We make the full moon

look so pale

 

And I wonder:

How far is paradise?

 

© 2014 ALIA SULTAN