Vladimir Nabokov

Groen, Roy. Circling Around Hegel: Pens and Problems in Nabokov’s Bend Sinister. 2015

Bibliographic title
Circling Around Hegel: Pens and Problems in Nabokov’s Bend Sinister
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Online Journal
Periodical issue
v. 9
Publication year
Roy Groen’s (Radboud University) article, “Circling around Hegel: Pens and Problems in Nabokov’s Bend Sinister,” develops the study of previous critics and commentators who have suggested a possible influence of the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel on a range of Vladimir Nabokov’s novels. Through a closer reading of one of these novels, Bend Sinister, Groen tries to explore this suggestion in depth. The main part of his inquiry revolves around a remarkable coincidence (or is it?): it turns out Bend Sinister’s protagonist, fictional philosopher Adam Krug, has a historical namesake, Wilhelm Traugott Krug, a relatively well-known Neo-Kantian philosopher in Hegel’s time whose works are nowadays largely forgotten. Taking his starting point from the infamous philosophical polemic between Hegel and the historical Krug on the subject of the latter’s pen, the author offers a reading of Bend Sinister that gives one reasons to reconsider the terms in which the relationship between Nabokov and Hegel is commonly described. In the process, Groen also shows how a reading of Nabokov’s novel may contribute to some of the ongoing discussions concerning present-day dialectical philosophy.