Cover image for The world of Nabokov's stories
The world of Nabokov's stories
Shrayer, Maxim, 1967-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xix, 396 pages : illustrations, 24 cm.
Format :


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PG3476.N3 Z864 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A century after his birth, Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) remains controversial, provocative, and cool. This title explores how Nabokov eclipsed the achievements of the Russian masters of the short story, Anton Chekhov and Ivan Bunin, with whom he maintained a dialogic relationship even as he became an American writer.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) is perhaps best known in the West for Lolita, but Shrayer (Russian literature, Boston Coll.) writes that true scholars of Russian literature have always revered him for his short stories. Nabokov wrote stories throughout his life: during his youth as an ‚migr‚ in England in the 1920s (his family left Russia shortly after the Revolution) through his later years in the United States, where he moved in 1940 (fleeing yet another war). Comparing the stories to those of Nabokov's "older contemporaries"ÄChekhov and Ivan BuninÄShrayer places Nabokov squarely in the Russian literary tradition by painstakingly examining the stories' narrative components. In an approach that would no doubt have pleased Nabokov himself, Shrayer examines the stories through models of the reading process, incorporating Nabokov's own ideas of how one "reads." An important addition to Nabokov scholarship; recommended for larger public and academic libraries.ÄDiane G. Premo, Rochester P.L., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Shrayer (Boston College) offers admirably "close readings" of selected Nabokov Russian stories. Although scattered articles have been devoted to them, only a few critical volumes have focused on the stories: e.g., Marina Naumann's Blue Evenings in Berlin: Nabokov's Short Stories of the 1920s (CH, Sep'98); A Small Alpine Form: Studies in Nabokov's Short Fiction, ed. by Charles Nicol and Gennady Barabtarlo (1993). Shrayer's study differs from these. Rather than discussing Nabokov's nearly 70 stories, Shrayer makes an exhaustive study of the best: "The Return of Chorb," "The Aurelian," "Cloud, Castle, Lake," "Vasiliy Shishkov," "Spring in Fialta," and others. He analyzes the "world" of each tale in great detail and with great subtlety. Shrayer is no less interested in a larger "world"--Nabokov's relationship to and position in Russian literary tradition. He convincingly demonstrates how Nabokov plays off of and builds on Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) and Nobelist Ivan Bunin (1870-1953). As literary criticism becomes ever more "theorized," Shrayer has produced a study firmly grounded in a deep knowledge of Russian literary culture and in information newly garnered from archives throughout Europe and the US. An important book in Nabokov studies. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. D. B. Johnson emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Note on Transliteration
Dates, and References
List of Abbreviations
1 Writing and Reading the Otherworld
Interlude: Mapping Narrative Space in Nabokov's Stories
2 Testing Nabokov's Paradigms
The Creative Laboratory in "The Return of Chorb" (1925)
Memory, Pilgrimage, and Death in "The Aurelian" (1930)
Entering the Otherworld in "Cloud, Castle, Lake" (1937)
Poetry, Exile, and Prophetic Mystification in "Vasiliy Shishkov" (1939)
3 Nabokov's Dialogue with Chekhov: From "Lady with a Lap Dog" to "Spring in Fialta"
4 Nabokov and Bunin: The Poetics of RivalryCodaAppendix: A Complete Annotated List of Nabokov's Short Stories