This paper looks differently at Nabokov's "Signs and Symbols," focusing on the birthday present as the hinge on which this story swings. The present, this paper argues, is not merely an object but a thing, building on Bill Brown's and Remo Bodei's work on thing theory and drawing in Jacques Derrida's treatment of the gift. In doing so, this paper articulates an ethical physics of the present that offers a different sense of "referential mania" and of the present's ultimate operation in the story.
Signs and Presents
Periodical or collection