Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026990, Wed, 11 May 2016 00:57:59 +0000

Fw: [NABOKV-L] Quiz: unreliable narrators and fictional
From: Jansy Mello <jansy.mello@outlook.com>

Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 4:37 PM
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Quiz: unreliable narrators and fictional certainties

Robert Boyle: How about Gazdanov's novel, An Evening with Claire?

Jansy Mello: I had never before heard of Gaïto Gazdanov so I was interested in learning more. Thanks.
I separated two informative links because of a small coincidence: I'd recently inquired about Humbert's ex-wife marriage to a Russian chauffeur, and Gazdnov, a V.Nabokov contemporary (with a shorter lifespan), drove taxis in Paris...

Gazdanov "was born in 1903 in Saint Petersburg. In 1917 he interrupted his studies and enrolled in the White Army. His exile took him to Turkey and then to Paris where he arrived in 1923. By night he worked driving taxis and by day he became a fiction-writer. In 1953, he moved to Munich where he worked for Radio Liberty. He died in 1971 without ever seeing his country again. His works, less publicized but contemporary with Nabokov’s, have been completely forgotten and are now being rediscovered. [ ] In contrast to his literary rival Vladimir Nabokov who, with already a great body of Russian works behind him, switched languages and set about writing in English, Gazdanov himself never took that step. Gazdanov drew inspiration from two sources. Russian : his childhood, his early youth, the Civil War. And the other : French or, more precisely, Paris. These two currents, whose waters interflow but are always discernible, make up the distinctive character of his work."

A review of The Buddha’s Return, by Gaito Gazdanov, translated by Bryan Karetnyk. The existentialist fiction of this 1920s Russian émigré speaks to our time

Ted Hodgkinson<http://www.spectator.co.uk/author/tedhodgkinson/> Available from the Spectator Bookshop<http://www.spectatorbookshop.co.uk/TBP.Direct/PurchaseProduct/OrderProduct/CustomerSelectProduct/FullProductDetail.aspx?productCode=9781782270591%20>, £10.80 Tel: 08430 600033 Pushkin Press, pp.220, £12, ISBN: 9781782270591

"In the world of Gaito Gazdanov, a Russian émigré soldier turned taxi driver who began writing fiction in the 1920s, doublings abound, though their meanings are rarely resolved. As with his great contemporary Nabokov, this hall-of-mirrors effect provides a pleasant means of exploring the fragmentary and illusory self.

But it is Dostoevsky, and his novel The Double, that really loom larger here than Nabokov. Gazdanov shares Dostoevsky’s penetrating psychological insight, and is drawn to characters in the midst of a breakdown. While Gazdanov seems in thrall to these vastly different novelists, he has his own utterly distinctive voice....[ ]While the narrative is rooted in the historic present, what’s striking about Gazdanov’s fiction is how it transcends the mid-20th-century émigré tradition, and poses prescient questions about the fracturing of identity. This novel seems to pre-empt the ‘abstract unease’ — to borrow a phrase from its own pages — of the Cold War era and the diplomatic ice age that followed, right up to the present, with our new online identities.[ ] Pushkin Press is to be congratulated on reviving an author who is as relevant now as ever. Both these fine novels offer gripping detective drama, while also engaging with questions of consciousness and self that cannot be resolved by simply foiling a killer."


*On Mon, May 9, 2016 at 3:59 PM, Jansy Mello <mailto:jansy.mello@outlook.com> wrote:

Writing about Fran Assa's spotting of the name "Clare Bishop" [ Cf. The Suicide of Claire Bishop - I just happened upon a novel of this title by Carmiel Banasky, Dzanc Books, 2015. I skimmed it and could find no attribution to Nabokov, so the title is probably a coincidence. On the other hand I haven't read it "], Mary Efremov observes simply that: "she supposedly died after giving birht if the artful brother is to be believed." This commentary inspired me to invite the VN-L participants to offer suggestions about the "fictional facts" that can be considered as unquestionable "fictional truths" in any VN's novel.

I think that there are many such facts to be marked ( as, for example, that Van and Ada are siblings) - but I'm curious about what Nablers think about how often "unreliable narrators" distort most of the information the reader gets access to.

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