Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004574, Wed, 17 Nov 1999 09:43:33 -0800

Paris-J.-K. Lann (fwd)
J.-K. Lann (Universite Lyon III)

(a Brief Account)

This paper aims to demonstrate how VN's life abroad not only influenced
the poet's selection of themes, but also determined the original form of
expression, which, paradoxically, combined elements from the Russian
tradition and the contemporary European. Having arisen from Symbolism,
Nabokov's poetry gradually evolved from this initial system, turning
toward a Neoclassical, heirarchic, stylistic rigor, simultaneously
maintaining ambiguous and conflicting relations with artistic prose.
Continuing his search for originality of lyric expression, Nabokov attains
a compression of language to the point when poetic language is abolished
by being outside of the native idiom.
At the beginning of his poetic career, the "ideology" of Symbolism
provides the structure for his world-view and affords him a convenient
frame for the expression of exile. But the very experience of cultural
expatriation expedites his rejection of the principles of aesthetic
gnosticism and sets Nabokov's poetic work on the path of "Adamism," close
to the poetic art of the young post-Symbolist school of that name. The
form of VN's poetic utterance appears in several main themes (the loss of
his native land, the rupture of time, anxious reflection on the essence
of man, etc.), which constitute powerful networks of recurrent images and
determine the very method of the writer. The evolution of Nabokov's
poetics lead to a reworking of form, and the "disappearance of
narrativity" of the writer in his Russian works during his second exile
still more insistently emphasize the abstract "Mallarme-like" character of
this work whose first aim is the exorcism of the fatal, magical influence of
the absent.