Despair (Otchayanie) by Vladimir Nabokov

Whiffs of thoughts relating to the business in hand, to the car I had recently acquired, to this or that feature of the surrounding country, played, as it were, on the outside of my mind, and if anything did echo in my vast inward wilderness it was merely the dim sensation of some force driving me along.

I liked, as I like still, to make words look self-conscious and foolish, to bind them by the mock marriage of a pun, to turn them inside out, to come upon them unawares. What is this jest in majesty? This ass in passion. How do God and Devil combine to form a live dog?

Or was I, perhaps, only making my way along the ordinary corridor of my dreams, time after time shrieking with horror at finding the room empty, and then one unforgettable day finding it empty no more? Yes, it was then that everything got explained and justified – my longing to open that door, and the queer games I played, and that thirst for falsehood, that addition to painstaking lying which had seemed so aimless till then.

I am a bad speaker, and the oration which I seem to render word by word did not flow with the lissom glide it has on paper. Indeed, it is not really possible to set down my incoherent speech, that tumble and jumble of words, the forlornness of subordinated clauses, which have lost their masters and strayed away, and all the superfluous gibber that gives words a support or a creep hole;

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