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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 as Storyteller

Nabokov as Storyteller

(p.157) 13. Nabokov as Storyteller
Stalking Nabokov

Brain Boyd

Columbia University Press

This chapter talks about Vladimir Nabokov as a storyteller by comparing the openings of his first novel, Mary, with his penultimate completed novel, Transparent Things. Although Nabokov would write differently in all sorts of ways if his metaphysics and ethics were thinner and poorer, the chapter argues that we would still read Nabokov without them because of his literary style. But although we admire the style of Speak, Memory or Nabokov's forewords and afterwords or even Strong Opinions, we would not be drawn back to Nabokov again and again if there were just style and no story in his work. Nabokov attracts us in the first place, and keeps us returning, by his storytelling. This chapter examines the nature of Nabokovian narrative by considering how he makes the most of the gaps and the links between character, reader, and author, as well as the way he minimizes the conflict that ticks its way through so much of story. Finally, it discusses the family likeness of Nabokov's stories that sets them apart from other fiction.

Keywords:   novel, Vladimir Nabokov, storyteller, Mary, Transparent Things, literary style, storytelling, narrative, family, fiction

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