- Title Pages
- Title Pages
- 1. A Centennial Toast
- 2. A Biographer’s Life
- 3. Who Is “My Nabokov”?
- 4. The Nabokov Biography and the Nabokov Archive
- 5. From the Nabokov Archive
- 6. Retrospects and Prospects
- 7. Nabokov’s Afterlife
- 8. Nabokov, Literature, Lepidoptera
- 9. Netting Nabokov
- 10. The Psychological Work of Fictional Play
- 11. Stacks of Stories, Stories of Stacks
- 12. Nabokov’s Humor
- 13. Nabokov as Storyteller
- 14. Nabokov’s Transition from Russian to English
- 15. Nabokov, Pushkin, Shakespeare
- 16. Nabokov as Verse Translator
- 17. Tolstoy and Nabokov
- 18. Nabokov and Machado de Assis
- 19. <i>Speak, Memory:</i> The Life and the Art
- 20. <i>Speak Memory:</i> Nabokov, Mother, and Lovers
- 21. <i>Lolita:</i> Scene and Unseen
- 22. Even Homais Nods
- 23. Literature, Pattern, <i>Lolita</i>
- 24. “Pale Fire”: Poem and Pattern
- 25. <i>Ada</i>: The Bog and the Garden
- 26. A Book Burner Recants
- (p.145) 12. Nabokov’s Humor
- Stalking Nabokov
- Columbia University Press
This chapter analyzes Vladimir Nabokov's sense of humor as it relates to his work. Nabokov stressed that we should remember that the difference between the comic and the cosmic depends on just one little sibilant. In novels such as Solus Rex, The Gift, Pale Fire, Ada, and Speak, Memory, Nabokov's humor is evident. Laughter, Nabokov suggests, is “something let loose in our world that bespeaks a much richer but inarticulate truth about things than our little understandings can have within this world.” Nabokov wanted to be funny at every level, and in every way. What Nabokov tried for in his own fiction was to mingle laughter and its opposites: humor and horror, laughter and loss. He insisted that “genuine art mixes categories.” He also tried to find as many different kinds of humor as possible, some fast, some slow-release, some local, some global, some verbal, some situational, some sympathetic, some barbed. Nabokov offers humor at every level from the pun to the allusion, character, situation, structure, and social satire.
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