Nabokov’s Otherworld by Vladimir E. Alexandrov

By Vladimir E. Alexandrov

An immense reexamination of the novelist Vladimir Nabokov as "literary gamesman," this ebook systematically indicates that in the back of his ironic manipulation of narrative and his puzzle-like therapy of aspect there lies a cultured rooted in his instinct of a transcendent realm and in his consequent redefinition of "nature" and "artifice" as synonyms. starting with Nabokov's discursive writings, Vladimir Alexandrov unearths his global view established at the event of epiphany—characterized by means of a surprising fusion of various sensory information and stories, a sense of timelessness, and an instinct of immortality—which promises the genuine artist intimations of an "otherworld." Readings of The protection, Invitation to a Beheading, The present, the genuine lifetime of Sebastian Knight, Lolita, and faded hearth exhibit the epiphanic event to be a touchstone for the characters' metaphysical insightfulness, ethical make-up, and aesthetic sensibility, and to be a structural version for the way the narratives themselves are shaped and for the character of the reader's involvement with the textual content. In his end, Alexandrov outlines a number of of Nabokov's attainable highbrow and creative money owed to the bright and variegated tradition that flourished in Russia at the eve of the Revolution. Nabokov emerges as much less alienated from Russian tradition than such a lot of his emigre readers believed, and as much less "modernist" than a lot of his Western readers nonetheless think.

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10) he mentions that the autobiography's opening chapter was first published in 1950. 3 In the lecture Nabokov quotes a standard dictionary definition of the term commonsense, and then goes on to re­ define it with an unequivocally negative meaning: "Commonsense at its worst is sense made common, and so everything is comfortably cheap­ ened by its touch"; "the biography of commonsense makes nasty read­ ing"; "Commonsense has trampled down many a gentle genius whose eyes had delighted in a too early moonbeam of some too early truth.

298). Although this might seem to be a frivolous or eccentric comment, within Nabokov's hierarchy of values in Speak, Memory mimicry and disguise in nature are essential evidence for a transcendent otherworld. Thus, the parallel he draws between a child's cognitive development and the grasping of a mimetic phenomenon implies the involvement of a tran­ scendent agency at the basis of an infant's, and therefore, of human con­ sciousness. Furthermore, the incremental leap in consciousness implied by the idea of the child reaching for "the next dimension" resembles Na­ bokov's description of the expansion of consciousness during "cosmic synchronization," and thus also points to the transcendent.

The last lines of Speak, Memory suggest what this goal may have been for Nabokov. He describes how he, his wife, and son were approaching the harbor where the ship that was to take them to the United States was docked. The parents saw the ship first through various buildings and clotheslines that lay between them and the dock (obstacles to which Nabokov typically refers as "all sorts of stratagems"), but inten­ tionally chose not to call their son's attention to it. The reason was that they wanted to "enjoy in full the blissful shock, the enchantment and glee he would experience" on discovering for himself the "ungenuinely gigan­ tic and unrealistically real" prototype of all the toy boats he had ever played with (p.

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