Vladimir Nabokov ‘The Eye’

I yanked the door open. The furniture was somewhat differently distributed; a new pitcher stood on the washstand; and, on the wall behind it I found the hole, carefully plastered over – yes, the moment I found it I felt reassured. With my hand pressed to my heart I gazed at the secret mark of my bullet: it was my proof that I had really died; the world immediately regained its reassuring insignificance – I was strong once again, nothing could hurt me. With one sweep of my fancy I was ready to evoke the most fearsome shade from my former existence. 

It is frightening when real life suddenly turns out to be a dream, but how much more frightening when that which one had thought a dream – fluid and irresponsible – suddenly starts to congeal into reality! (p.98)

The street continued in the side mirror adjoining the display window, but this was but an illusionary continuation: a car that had passed from left to right would vanish abruptly, even though the street awaited it imperturbably; another car, which had been approaching from the opposite direction, would vanish as well – one of them had been only a reflection. 

Finally the sales girl appeared. I selected a big bouquet of lilies of the valley; cold gems dripped from their resilient bells; cold gems dripped from their resilient bells; …. As I pushed the door, I noticed the reflection in the side mirror: a young man in a bowler carrying a bouquet, hurried towards me. That reflection and I merged into one. I waled out into the street. (p.97)

I have to tell you. After all, you don’t know me… But actually I wear a mask – I am always hidden behind a mask…”

There is use to dissemble – all these people I met were not live beings but only chance mirrors fro Smurov; one among them, though, and for me the most important, the brightest mirror of all, still would not yield me Smurov’s reflection.

If you do it thorough;y and regularly you get a good feeling, a feeling of self-preservation, so to speak – you preserve your entire life, and, in later years, rereading it, you may find it not devoid of fascination. (p.78)


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