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Vladimir Nabokov: Alphabet in Color (open book small)
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Jean Holabird, Brian Boyd:
Vladimir Nabokov — Alphabet in Color
Illustrated by Jean Holabird with a Foreword by Brian Boyd*
Nabokov’s colored sounds come to light.
He saw “Q” as browner than “K,”
and “S” as not the light blue of “C,”
but a curious mixture of azure and
mother-of-pearl.
Vladimir Nabokov could hear color. As he described it — perhaps “hearing” is not quite accurate, since the color sensation seems to be produced by the very act of my orally forming a given letter while I imagine its outline. The long “a” of the English alphabet . . . has for me the tint of weathered wood, but a French "a" evokes polished ebony. This black group also includes hard “g” (vulcanized rubber) and “r” (a sooty rag being ripped). Oatmeal “n,” noodle-limp “l,” and the ivory-backed hand mirror of “o” take care of the whites.
Vladimir Nabokov: Alphabet in Color(1)
Vladimir Nabokov: Alphabet in Color
For anyone who has ever wondered how the colors Nabokov heard might manifest themselves visually, Alphabet in Color is a remarkable journey of discovery. Jean Holabird’s interpretation of the colored alphabets of one of the twentieth century’s literary greats is a revelation. Nabokov saw rich colors in letters and sounds and noted the deficiency of color in literature, praising Gogol as the first Russian writer to truly appreciate yellow and violet. This book masterfully brings to life the charming and vibrant synesthetic colored letters that until now existed only in Nabokov’s mind.

In Alphabet in Color Jean Holabird’s grasp of form and space blends perfectly with Nabokov’s idea that a subtle interaction exists between sound and shape. He saw “q” as browner than “k,” while “s” is not the light blue of “c,” but a curious mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl. . . . Dull green, combined somehow with violet, is the best I can do for “w.”

In his playful foreword, Brian Boyd, “the prince of Nabokovians,” points out that an important part of “Nabokov’s passion for precision was his passion for color.”

Vladimir Nabokov was the author of The Defense, Invitation to a Beheading, The Gift, Lolita, Pnin, Pale Fire, Ada and much, much more.

48 pages, Hardcover, double flap binding, 9 1/4'' x 7'' (235 x 175 mm)
74 water color illustrations, printed on 200 gsm Tintoretto paper, English
ISBN-13: 978-1-58423-139-4  
ISBN-10: 1-58423-139-4       $ 25.00

*) read online Brian Boyd’s Foreword to Alphabet in Color: Nabokov’s Blues and His Drab-Shoelace Brown, and His Weathered-Wood Black
About the Artist:
Jean Holabird
 INTERVIEW >>>
Jean Holabird
Jean Holabird was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, grew up in Chicago, and studied at Columbia University, The Art Students League, and Bennington College.
As with many of her fellow artists, she fell in love with New York City. In 1975 she moved into her present studio on Warren Street, in lower Manhattan, four blocks north of the World Trade Center.
Jean Holabird on CBS News:
About the Author:
Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd is University Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He has published widely on Vladimir Nabokov, including a two-volume biography, books on Pale Fire and Ada, and the website AdaOnline.
See also:

Nabokov: Pale Fire
Vladimir Nabokov: Pale Fire
Many think Pale Fire is Nabokov’s greatest novel. At its heart beats a 999-line poem, penned by its fictional hero, John Shade. This first-ever facsimile edition of the poem shows it to be not just a fictional device but also a masterpiece of American poetry, albeit by an invented persona. more...

Nabokov: Photographs by Horst Tappe
Nabokov:
Photographs by Horst Tappe
Until Nabokov’s death in 1977, Tappe photographed the world-renowned author of Lolita in private as well as on the Swiss mountain slopes catching butterflies (Nabokov once stated "My pleasures are the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting"). more...

Out of the Ruins: A New York Record Lower Manhattan, Autumn 2001
Out of the Ruins: A New York Record, Autumn 2001
Soon after the attacks of September 11th, artist Jean Holabird set out to record the wreckage visible from the perimeter of Ground Zero, the former site of the WTC. With an instinctive drive, she attempted to chronicle the ruins and their dismantling before this could be carted away. more...
How to order:
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GINGKO PRESS | LITERATURE ART BOOK | ISBN-13: 9781584231394 | ISBN-10: 1584231394