NABOKV-L post 0006183, Fri, 26 Oct 2001 16:58:17 -0700

VN Bibliography: Adam Weiner. _By Authors Possessed_
NABOKV-L wrote:

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Subject: VN Bibliography: Adam Weiner. _By Authors Possessed_
> Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 14:33:08 -0700
> From: "D. Barton Johnson" <>
> Organization: International Nabokov Society
> To: "" <>
> Valuable observations on Nabokov works are sometimes to be found in
> "collective" volumes with many contributors, or in books primarily
> devoted to other authors and topics. These are easily missed especially
> when Nabokov's name does not appear in the book's title. One such case
> is:
> Adam Weiner. _By Authors Possessed: The Demonic Novel in Russia_.
> Northwestern UP, 1998.
> Weiner examines three major "demonic" novels--Gogol's _Dead Souls_,
> Dostoevsky's _The Devils_ (a.k.a. _The Possessed_), and Bely's
> _Peterburg_. His particular interest is in determing the author's moral
> position vis-a-vis the positions of his characters. In these three
> authors, Weiner finds that they (unwilllingly and, perhaps,
> unwittingly) concede victory to evil or, at best, reveal their own deep
> ambivalence. The authors fail to exorcise their demons. Note, for
> example, that in Dostoevsky's novels while virtue may be the nominal
> "winner," the devil's argument always seems the stronger.
> Each author is the subject of a chapter. The final chapter is a dense
> 37-page essay entitled "Nabokov and the Exorcism of the Novel." Weiner
> notes that VN has been widely accused of being, at the very least, in
> league with the devil in his cooly detached and sometimes humorous
> treatments of outright evil. After a very careful examination of several
> Nabokov fictions and other writings, Weiner convincingly asserts that
> UNLIKE the above-named blatantly moralistic writers, Nabokov is, in
> fact, the only one to successfully exorcise evil in his work
> Weiner's book was originally done as a dissertation at Wisconsin and
> speaks well of the quality of his mentors, particularly Bethea, Dolinin,
> and Rosenshield. Weiner writes cogently and with great eloquence. His
> chapter on Nabokov is a carefully formulated assessment of Nabokov's
> ethics and a contribution to that much vexed topic.