This paper seeks to examine a particular facet of Nabokov’s authorial presence, namely the kinship between the figures of the author and the explorer. The act of exploration emerges as a powerful topos in Nabokov’s fiction and drama, generally triggered by the fascination for the blank spot that still awaits a name. Mirroring the foundational gesture of the explorer, the author draws the cartography of a new fictional world and endows it with a nominal identity.
I would like to argue that one of the possible sources for the unstable pronominal behavior typical of The Gift can be found in Marco Polo’s Description of the World, a text produced jointly by Marco Polo and a professional scribe, Rusticello di Pisa. John Mandeville’s Travels, with their source appropriation and mystification, also seem to provide a relevant textual model.