NABOKV-L post 0026991, Tue, 10 May 2016 22:56:52 -0400

Subject
Re: Fw: [NABOKV-L] Quiz: unreliable narrators and fictional
certainties
Date
Body
You'll find VN's reaction to Gazdanov in this brief note in the Archive.
I submitted it to the Forum in 2008:

"Asked about Gaito Gazdanov, an emigre writer in Paris whose novels,
Buddha's Return, and The Specter of Alexander Wolf, brought V.'s early
works to my mind, he shuddered and dismissed him as"that cabdriver.'"

I made no mention of Gazdanov's An Evening with Claire because I did not
read it until five or so years ago after I found a copy for sale in
Australia. Ah, yes, an added point from VN, so I recall now. He said that
Gazdanov was an Ossetian, not a Russian, a point confirmed by others but
who said he was from a Russified family. .

There is a very informative internet Harvard Magazine article about
Gazdanov who wrote voluminously as an emigre in France and is now a very
highly praised writer in Russia. It is by by *László Dienes, Ph.D. '77,
who teaches Russian literature and digital culture at the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst. He organized the current Houghton Library
exhibit *Gaito Gazdanov and Russian Literature in Exile*, based on
materials donated to Harvard by Gazdanov's widow in 1975.*



Cheers, RHB




On Tue, May 10, 2016 at 8:57 PM, Shvabrin, Stanislav <
shvabrin@humnet.ucla.edu> wrote:

> *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 <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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