This article reconsiders the degree of difference between Charles Kinbote and Vladimir Nabokov and argues that Kinbote’s identity as Nabokov’s opposite or negative image is insufficiently negative. After situating the peculiarities of Zemblan Christianity within a broader cultural context, this article charts a series of moments where Kinbote’s voice merges not only with those of Adam Krug (Bend Sinister) and Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev (The Gift), but with Nabokov’s autobiography voice, as well, and reveals Nabokov’s gift to Kinbote of central tenets of his private "optimysticism." What these shared aspects reveal is a more intimate, if also more apophatic identification between author and character, as the two come together in a mutual summoning of words and images that gesture to the ultimate impotency of language and thought before that which transcends every abstraction.
The Gist of Masks: Notes on Kinbote’s Christianity and Nabokov’s Authorial Kenosis
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Online Journal