Nabokov and Marcus Aurelius

Yesterday morning I was reading a passage in V. Nabokov’s Speak, Memory. In the introduction there is this passage:

Nature expects a full-grown man to accept the two black voids, fore and aft, as stolidly as he accepts the extraordinary visions in between. […] my mind has made colossal efforts to distinguish the faintest of personal glimmers in the impersonal darkness on both sides of my life.
(emphasis added)

And later in the evening, I’ve found a quote from Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor of the ancient Rome:
Roman - Portrait of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius - Walters 23215

You have the power to strip away many superfluous troubles located wholly in your judgment, and to possess a large room for yourself embracing in thought the whole cosmos, to consider everlasting time, to think of the rapid change in the parts of each thing, of how short it is from birth until dissolution, and how the void before birth and that after dissolution are equally infinite
(Meditations, Book 9)

Black void, darkness on both sides of the life – before birth and after death. Seemingly my favourite author liked the emperor… Actually, all his work is full of this kind of hidden and less hidden allusions to authors, literary texts and who-knows-what. Enjoy!

I think that every human being has a fundamental impulse to narrate stories, and usually people do that with their children. When I published my first novel people asked me, ‘Why did you write a novel? I said, ‘When my children were children I could tell stories to them. When they became adults I didn’t know to whom I could tell stories, so I decided to write a novel.’