Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000055, Mon, 9 Aug 1993 15:57:08 -0700

Mary and the Art of Memory (fwd)
The following message is Galya Diment's commentary on John Burt
Foster's treatment of Nabokov's 1926 novel, MARY/MASHENKA in his new
book, _Nabokov's Art of Memory and European Modernism_ It is
the beginning of what we hope will be an open discussion of the novel and
various critical discussions of it. John Foster will reply and other
responses are invited.
D. Barton Johnson, Editor

---------- Text of forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1993 08:42:01 -0700 (PDT)
From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>
To: vladimir nabokov <nabokv-l%ucsbvm.BITNET@uwavm.u.washington.edu>
Subject: Mary and the Art of Memory

Dear John,

While analyzing MARY in your new book, NABOKOV'S ART OF MEMORY AND
EUROPEAN MODERNISM, you interpret Ganin's decision not to wait for Mary's
train as his rejection of the past. You write (p. 33): "[I]n a calculated
anticlimax that suggests a denial of the past, he prefers to leave Berlin
rather than try to see Mary again." You repeat this assertion later on as
well when you allude to "Ganin's concluding decision to reject his past"
(p. 60). This interpretation of the end of the novel appears to affect not
only your reading of MARY but also your theory of how Nabokov's "art of
memory" evolved through the years.

To me, that was a very surprising interpretation. I always treated Ganin's
final decision as a testimony to the opposite: his cherishing of his past,
his realization that he has already re-lived it in a most meaningful way
by re-constructing and re-capturing it in his memory prior to her arrival,
his desire to make sure that nothing from their present lives should
disturb the sanctuary of his memory.

This is largely the "art of memory" that I see practiced throughout all of
Nabokov's career as a writer. I have problems with the notion that it ever
really "evolved" rather than staying virtually the same.