Author as Hero
Self and Tradition in Bulgakov, Pasternak, and Nabokov
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: Northwestern University Press
It is a genuine pleasure for me to recognize the great debt lowe to colleagues, friends, and relatives who helped me complete this book. Andrew Wachtel, who encouraged me and gave me invaluable early advice and direction, deserves special mention. He and Gary Saul Morson have long served as model scholars for me and as sources of intellectual inspiration...
I begin with this oft-quoted passage from Pasternak's Safe Conduct because I am interested in how art is conscious of its origins. The frequent citation of this passage in literary scholarship reveals, moreover, how accustomed we have become to the discourse of "meta." Metafictional narrative devices have long been a focus of scholarly criticism, and the past several decades...
Chapter One: Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita
THERE ARE, perhaps, as many ways to compare Bulgakov to Gogol as there are works in Bulgakov's oeuvre. 1 Especially in The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov shares Gogol's uncanny ability to gesture toward the spiritual void beneath a comic, satirical surface. As both Gogol and Bulgakov discovered, satire sometimes becomes its own obstacle...
Chapter Two: Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago
CRITICAL APPRAISALS OF Doctor Zhivago 1 on the whole may vary, but most readers agree that the exquisite language of description and poetry employed by the novel and its eponymous hero are unmatched in twentieth-century Russian fiction.2 Perhaps action in the novel merely frames description, and prose provides an excuse for verse...
Chapter Three: Vladimir Nabokov’s The Gift
NABOKOV WOULD NO DOUBT have been annoyed by my placement of his Russian masterpiece, The Gift, 1 adjacent to what he called "Pasternak's melodramatic and vilely written Zhivago. "2 As Mayakovsky complained in his poem Anniversary of N adson, N abokov might also have objected that in the alphabet of Russian literary monuments Pasternak stands between him and Pushkin...
Conclusion: Psychology and the Russian Novel
IT IS REASONABLE to expect that a vital literarytradition will continually outpace itself, trace new paths, and discover overlooked turns in the old. Much of what I have written has been motivated by my desire to show how Bulgakov, Pasternak, and Nabokov reshape the Russian tradition of psychological prose by elevating the figure of the author to hero in their novels...