Toska – noun /ˈtō-skə/ – Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness.
“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”
― Vladimir Nabokov
“Her poor pretty hands—one could not help cooing with pity over them—rosy in comparison to the translucent skin of the arm, rosier even than the elbow that seemed to be blushing for the state of her nails: she bit them so thoroughly that all vestige of free margin was replaced by a groove cutting into the flesh with the tightness of wire and lending an additional spatule of length to her naked fingertips. Later, when he was so fond of kissing her cold hands she would clench them, allowing his lips nothing but knuckle, but he would fiercely pry her hand open to get at those flat blind little cushions.” —Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov
I’m re-reading my favorite parts of this book so I can jot the down neatly in a certain notebook filled with my favorite moments and passages in literature. I absolutely love Ada or Ardor and let’s face it, it’s horrible but it’s incredibly beautiful for me in a heartbreaking, sad and strange way and it continues to be one of my favorites. The richness and the language is breathtakingly visual and there’s nothing like a work by Nabokov.
Any Nabokov fans here? Which book or stories he write did you love best? And I’m also curious if anyone also has a notebook where they jot down their favorite passages or moments from literature.