Vladimir Nabokov

a busy man and transparent things

By j_j_bermudez, 11 May, 2020

I have just recently been aware of a slight resemblance between "A busy man" and Transparent things. Over a 40 years span, Nabokov's themes and obsessions seem to remain: Grafitski muses on a dream about falling out of a window been confused by fire or something coming through it. Hugh Person is haunted by fire, windows and heights till he finally dies (at an age not far from Grafitski own 34 years). Of course death and the meaning of time are paramount topics in VN work but I find this coincidence striking (and of course there is a Pushkin atmosphere all around). Does anyone feels the same? Thankyou. JJ

Alexey Sklyarenko

4 years 2 months ago

The characters in A Busy Man include Ivan Ivanovich Engel (Grafitski's neighbor). The narrators in Transparent Things seem to be the devils. In VN's story In Memory of L. I. Shigaev the narrator by dint of prolonged drinking began to see devils. A play on grafit (pencil-lead), the name Grafitski (Graf It in the Russian original) brings to mind the history of a pencil in Chapter 3 of Transparent Things.


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4 years 2 months ago

Luzhin in The Defense kills himself jumping out a window. In Pale Fire Kinbote discusses (with himself) suicide by gently rolling out a window. Also in PF, Baron Bland, the Keeper of the Treasure jumps from the castle tower.