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Mary, p. 56: windows

November 7, 2009

Ganin recollects the pavilion in a park where he first met Mary:“In its small diamond-shaped window frames were panes of different colored glass:  if, say, you looked through a blue one the world seemed frozen in a lunar trance; through a yellow one, everything appeared extraordinarily gay; through a red one, the sky looked pink and the foliage as dark as burgandy.”

The first example of the “false azure” of the windowpane?  The passage suggests that the memory of light passing through glass has the capacity to reproduce the “global affect” of a lost world; note that light passing through a blue pane suggests a freezing of time and the effects of the enormous distance between then and now.

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One comment

  1. I believe that Nabokov, in describing a scene as viewed through various colored panes of glass, is recalling his own childhood experience at Vyra. He uses the same description in “Ada”, written 40 years after “Mary”. It stuck with him for his entire life.



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