Observations placeholder

Nabokov, Vladimir - Sees things through his mother's eyes



Type of Spiritual Experience


Unfortunately we don't know what illness helped him with this rather remarkable foray into his mother's perceptions.

All of this took place.  Furthermore, he 'saw'  his mother go into a shop and buy a pencil for him, when she got back...

'a few minutes later she entered the room; in her arms she held a parcel, .... the object proved to be a pencil'


A description of the experience

Speak, Memory

One day after a long illness, as I lay in bed still very weak, I found myself basking in an unusual euphoria of lightness and repose.  I knew my mother had gone to buy me the daily present that made those convalescences so delightful.  What it would be this time I could not guess, but through the crystal of my strangely translucent state I vividly visualised her driving away down Morskaya Street toward Nevski Avenue.

I distinguished the light sleigh drawn by the chestnut courser.  I heard his snorting breath, the rhythmic clacking of his scrotum, and the lumps of frozen earth and snow thudding against the front of the sleigh.  Before my eyes and before those of my mother loomed the hindpart of the coachman in his heavily padded blue robe, and the leather encased watch (twenty minutes past two)strapped to the back of his belt, from under which curved the pumpkin like folds of his huge stuffed rump.

I saw my mother's sealfurs and, as the icy speed increased, the muff she raised to her face - that graceful winter ride gesture of a St Petersburg lady.  Two corners of the voluminous spread of bearskin that covered her up to her waist were attached by loops to the two side knobs of the low back of her seat.  And behind her, holding on to these knobs, a footman in a cockaded hat stood on his narrow support above the rear extremeties of the runners.

The source of the experience

Nabokov, Vladimir

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Being a child