Illuminated Lovers

  • Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov likened the fluorescence of a tungsten lamp to the light of a single mind breaking the darkness of ignorance.
  • When Nabokov lectured on Russian Literature at Cornell University, he is said to have turned off all the lights and closed the shutters.
  • He plunged the room – and its surprised occupants – into complete darkness.
  • "This," said Nabokov, flicking the switch and putting one of the lights back on, "is Pushkin." "And this," after turning on the reading lamp, too, "is Dostoevsky."

Inside the light bulb on his shoulders we can see a figure holding up a radiant thread. This image prompts an analogy to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor with its lesser known title of Liberty Enlightening the World. It is a moment of illumination.

The man and woman standing next to each other in the painting symbolize a couple enlightened by their hopes for a better future.