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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 Transition from Russian to English

Nabokov’s Transition from Russian to English

Repudiation or Evolution?

(p.176) 14. Nabokov’s Transition from Russian to English
Stalking Nabokov

Brain Boyd

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Vladimir Nabokov's switch from Russian fiction to the English literary tradition. It first considers Alexander Dolinin's “strong” reading of Nabokov's career; Dolinin characterized Nabokov's early years as a period of creatively combative engagement with the Russian literary tradition and his later years, some time after his switch to English, in terms of a disavowal of that former engagement and a diminution of his own Russian achievement. The chapter cites some obvious counterevidence to the claim that Nabokov devalued his Russian work and explains why Nabokov continually drove himself to develop artistically. In particular, it describes how Nabokov passionately and persistently sought to arrange translations into English of what he thought his three best Russian novels—The Defense, Invitation to a Beheading, and The Gift. It also discusses Nabokov's sense of cultural evolution and his desire throughout his American and final European years to keep alive the memory of the Russian liberal tradition.

Keywords:   fiction, Vladimir Nabokov, English literature, Alexander Dolinin, Russian literature, novel, The Gift, cultural evolution, America, Russia

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