Vladimir Nabokov: The Gift

(2567 words)

The Gift may be seen as a more mature and enlarged version of Nabokov's first novel Mary (1926), with an added jumbling of narrative styles and generic forms. It is permeated with a strong “literary” component, largely (though not exclusively) relating to Russian literature – both nineteenth-century “classical” and émigré. According to Nabokov's English-version foreword, indeed, his novel's heroine “is not Zina, but Russian Literature” (9). Published serially (as Dar) in a Russian émigré journal in 1937-8, the work appeared shorn of its fourth chapter, the “biography” of the nineteenth-century radical, Nikolay Chernyshevski (retaining Nabokov's idiosyncratic spelling), which was censored by the …

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