Zina's paradox: the figured reader in Nabokov's "Gift"
One of the century's greatest Russian novels, Vladimir Nabokov's The Gift still continues to baffle new readers with its playfully unstable narration, its temporal shifts, and its huge inserted opus, The Life of Chernyshevski. This study, the first monograph on Nabokov's last Russian novel, explores the connections between the narrative's structural difficulties and its most pressing thematic concerns: love and self-transcendence. In a departure from traditional approaches to The Gift, Blackwell places Zina's role as a loving, collaborating audience at the very center of the novel's significance. This non-heroine, according to Nabokov, turns out to constitute a vital part of the narrative perspective, a fact with significant repercussions for the novel's consideration of art's meaning within human existence and beyond.
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The Structure of the Problematic Reading
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Adamovich aesthetic Aikhenvald artistic Author and Hero Bakhtin becomes Berlin biography boundaries Brian Boyd Cherny Chernyshevski book childhood conception consciousness context create creation creative critic cultural Davydov described discussion Dmitri Merezhkovsky echo efforts emigre literature Eugene Onegin exile existence explores fact fictional freedom Fyodor and Zina Fyodor's book Fyodor's father Giffs Gogol Green Lamp Grunewald hint human ideal imagine implied individual inner Khodasevich Koncheyev literary living mental Merezhkovsky merging metaphor metaphysical Nabokov's novel narrative narrator nature Nikolai Gogol Onegin stanza Otherworld Pale Fire paradoxical passage perspective physical Plato poem poem's poet poetry problem protagonist Pushkin question reader reading reality reflected relationship rereading Romantic Russian Language Russian literature seems sense Sergei Davydov shadow shift Solovyov's soul spiritual Stacy Schiff stanza Stepun story structure suggests Terapiano theme third person thought tion transcendent truth Vladimir Vladimir Nabokov Vladislav Khodasevich voice words writer Zinaida Gippius