Have been inching my way through Nabokov's short novel, The Eye, in Russian & English.

There is an Alp of yelping scholarship on Nabokov's pyrotechnical high-lit brew-haha. But I'd bet there are more layers to be uncovered. Like his political side. You note how, in his various introductions, he'll assert vociferously how disinterested he is in social & political problems; then, often in the same paragraph if not sentence, he'll make some acid comment about the Soviet regime, or about Freudianism, which he considers the Grand Poohbah of Western narcissism. Methinks he doth protest too much - usually a sign there's something going on.

He spent 15-20 years in the little exile-emigre communities in Germany etc. The Eye & other novels portray that milieu, mixing starry-eyed idealists with low Gogolesque comic schemers and cads. Much is made of ghosts, Ouija boards, spiritualism, life-in-death, death-in-life, dreams & reality... the stuff of frustrated culture cut off from its roots. Someone could do a curious cross-cultural comparison between Nabokov & the Native American Ghost Dance societies. There is a suffocating atmosphere, in Nabokov, of a mirror-world, drained of its vital connection to reality. It's possible that the reality Nabokov is representing as missing, is the dream of a reborn Russia. Both his spooky fictions, and the Ghost Dance ceremonies, are haunted vigils - full of spiritual hangings-about, possible (messianic) return.

(Don't forget : VN's birthday was April 23rd. St. George's Day. St. George, the slayer of red dragons - patron saint of both England and Russia. His own father was a prominent liberal politician, assassinated while giving a speech.)

No comments: