NABOKV-L post 0000556, Tue, 4 Apr 1995 10:05:37 -0700

Nabstract: Shrayer
EDITOR'S NOTE: Abstracts of the fourteen Nabokov papers read at the MLA
and AATSEEL Conferences in San Diego (Dec., 1994) continue to come in.
Below is the abstract of Maxim Shrayer's AATSEEL presentation. His paper
is connected with his 1995 Yale dissertation _The Poetics of Vladimir
Nabokov's Short Stories, with reference to Anton Chekhov and Ivan Bunin_
Although not widely known to the English reader, Ivan Bunin won the Nobel
Prize for Literature in 1933, the first Russian to do so.
"Nabokov and Bunin: The Poetics of Rivalry"

As a young writer in the 1920's, Nabokov capitalized on several landmark
stylistic achievements of Bunin, his senior contemporary (Bunin was
thirty years older than Nabokov and already famous in the Russia of
Nabokov's chidhood). By the middle of the 1930s, Nabokov had developed
into the most original emigre author of the younger generation. He
continued the stylistic traditions of Chekhov and Bunin and yet "opened,"
in Bunin's own words, "a whole new world" ("otkryl tselyi mir") in
Russian literature. Regarding Nabokov as his only rival and haunted by
Nabokov's fame, Bunin decided to reclaim his literary status as the
foremost living Russian writer by creating his masterpiece and testament,
_Dark Avenues_. In the latter part of this paper, I inquire into the
principal aesthetic, ethical, and metaphysical issues which shaped the
dialogue between Bunin's _Dark Avenues_ and Nabokov's stories of the late
1930s. I also consider the theoretical implications of their literary
rivalry for our understanding of the motor behind literary evolution. I
am thinking in particular of the Russian Formalists' idea that writers
reach back to grandfathers or granduncles. While Bunin did to some extent
reach back to Tolstoy and Turgenev, he also reached forward, in _Dark
Avenues_ and elsewhere, to his literary "nephew" Vladimir Nabokov.

Maxim Shrayer
Yale University