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Thread: Dickens quoted by Nabokov

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    Dickens quoted by Nabokov

    I can't for the life of me remember which interview, essay or letter (I'm thinking most likely a letter to Edmund Wilson but am by no means certain) it was, but Nabokov quoted and extended passage of Dickensian sea-imagery that remarked the light's reflection on the water as something like "thousands of diamonds". It's an extreme shot in the dark but does this passage sound familiar to anyone or am I crazy?

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    I tried to think of which Dickens novels might involve such a scene, but all I could find was a description of hail as diamonds in Tale of Two Cities.

    "The man slept on, indifferent to showers of hail and intervals of brightness, to sunshine on his face and shadow, to the paltering lumps of dull ice on his body and the diamonds into which the sun changed them, until the sun was low in the west, and the sky was glowing. Then, the mender of roads having got his tools together and all things ready to go down into the village, roused him."
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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    Registered User 108 fountains's Avatar
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    Possibly it is the passage below from the opening of Chapter 35 of Martin Chuzzlewit. It describes the scene when Martin and his friend Tom return to England after their disastrous sojourn in America:

    Bright as the scene was; fresh, and full of motion; airy, free, and sparkling; it was nothing to the life and exultation in the breasts of the two travellers, at sight of the old churches, roofs, and darkened chimney stacks of Home. The distant roar, that swelled up hoarsely from the busy streets, was music in their ears; the lines of people gazing from the wharves, were friends held dear; the canopy of smoke that overhung the town was brighter and more beautiful to them than if the richest silks of Persia had been waving in the air. And though the water going on its glistening track, turned, ever and again, aside to dance and sparkle round great ships, and heave them up; and leaped from off the blades of oars, a shower of diving diamonds; and wantoned with the idle boats, and swiftly passed, in many a sportive chase, through obdurate old iron rings, set deep into the stone-work of the quays; not even it was half so buoyant, and so restless, as their fluttering hearts, when yearning to set foot, once more, on native ground.
    A just conception of life is too large a thing to grasp during the short interval of passing through it.
    Thomas Hardy

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