Nabokov and epilepsy

Have a few thoughts on Galya Diment’s piece on Nabokov and epilepsy in the current TLS which I initially shared with the world on A Medical Education

A Medical Education

Currently I am reading Colin Grant’s A Smell of Burning: The Story of Epilepsy for review. As it happens, I open the TLS webpage  this morning and come across this article on whether Vladimir Nabokov had a form of epilepsy.Gayla Diment, the author of the piece, is certainly a careful reader of Nabokov:

I write about Nabokov and teach him every year, which means that I constantly re-read him (“One cannot read a book”, Nabokov famously advised his students; “one can only re-read it”). And certain passages in his autobiographical and fictional writings – amounting overall to a kind of obsession – started to come into sharper focus: he, too, must have suffered from some form of epilepsy.

I am always a little wary of attempts at retrospective diagnosis. This is especially so in psychiatry, where a trawl through a writer’s journals will almost certainly reveal introspective passages that…

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