ALPHABET IN COLOR (EN REIMPRESIÓN SIN FECHA)
Illustrated by Jean Holabird, with a Foreword by Brian Boyd
Nabokovs 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.
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 Holabirds interpretation of the colored alphabets of one of the twentieth centurys 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 Nabokovs mind. In Alphabet in Color Jean Holabirds grasp of form and space blends perfectly with Nabokovs 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 Nabokovs 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.
Jean Holabird is an artist based in New York and the author of Out of the Ruins A New York Record.
Brian Boyd is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English, University of Auckland.