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Stalking Nabokov$
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Brian Boyd

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231158572

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231158572.001.0001

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Nabokov’s Humor

Nabokov’s Humor

(p.145) 12. Nabokov’s Humor
Stalking Nabokov

Brain Boyd

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.

Keywords:   humor, Vladimir Nabokov, novel, Solus Rex, fiction, horror, laughter, pun, allusion, social satire

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