Shvabrin, Stanislav. ‘The Dreamy Stutter of Blok’s Rhythms’: On the Name and Nature of Nabokov’s Notion of ‘Pausative Verse'. 2009

Bibliographic title
‘The Dreamy Stutter of Blok’s Rhythms’: On the Name and Nature of Nabokov’s Notion of ‘Pausative Verse'
Periodical or collection
Russian Literature (Special Issue: Poetry and Poetics)
Periodical issue
v. 66, no. 1
Publication year

In ‘Notes on Prosody’ (1964), Vladimir Nabokov's most detailed delineation of his views on versification, special attention is given to “pausative verse”. The present discussion of the semantic aura this meter had for Nabokov delves into the origins of his notion of the phenomenon, showing Nabokov's indebtedness to Sergei Bobrov's experimental writings on verse theory, especially to Bobrov's substantiation of the term “pauznik” in his numerous pre-Revolutionary publications on poetics.

The outwardly paradoxical nature of Nabokov's attitude toward “pausative verse” was characterized, on the one hand, by his appreciation of this medium, and his avoidance of it in his own poetic praxis, on the other. It also can be called a focal point where various aspects of Nabokov's appreciation for Aleksandr Blok, the meter's most influential practitioner, come together. Making use of published as well as unpublished documents that shed light on Nabokov's notion of Blok's most lasting achievement, the present article shows that Nabokov's relationship with Blok cannot be satisfactorily interpreted along the lines of Harold Bloom's “anxiety of influence”, while an examination of Nabokov's translated oeuvre demonstrates that our present idea of his apparent aversion to accentual verse is in need of reconsideration.