Nabokov’s Permanent Mystery

The Expression of Metaphysics in His Work


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About the Book

This critical text examines the ways in which Vladimir Nabokov, one of the twentieth century’s great writers, structured his works to encapsulate his metaphysical beliefs. It draws examples from Nabokov’s novels, stories and nonfiction, revealing a startling consistency in his beliefs over the course of his career, even as the structure of his novels increased in complexity. At the heart of his work is a profound respect for what’s missing, for unsolvable riddles, for questions even at the expense of answers. Nabokov’s techniques—from wordplay to plotlines—reveal an enduring reverence for permanent mystery.

About the Author(s)

David S. Rutledge teaches English at the University of New Orleans in Louisiana. He has published scholarly works on Nabokov and Dickinson and has edited two anthologies about New Orleans.

Bibliographic Details

David S. Rutledge
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6076-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8648-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

List of Abbreviations      xi

Introduction      1

1. The Live Source of the Cliché      15

2. Time Frames      34

3. The Return Structure      43

4. The Metaphysics of Mistakes      51

5. The Problem of Biography      60

6. This Side      74

7. The Otherworldly Role of Water      90

8. Nabokov’s Originals      97

9. The Metaphysics of the Zig-Zag      105

10. The Authorial Role      115

11. The Indivisible Pearl      122

12. Merging Souls, Inviolate Lives: Nabokov’s Problematic Beyond      132

13. The Teleological Potential of Words      142

14. Not Quilty: The Problem of Persecution Mania      148

15. Ascending Structures 162i

16. The Conjurer’s Rented Rabbit      175

17. The Metaphysics of Imagination      182

Chapter Notes      187

Works Cited      193

Index      197