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The Event and the Main Thing in Nabokov's Theory of Drama

From: Nabokov Studies
Volume 7, 2002/2003
pp. 151-176 | 10.1353/nab.2010.0001



Comparing Nabokov's ideas on drama as expounded in his 1941 course on theater with his own dramatic experiments, the author asserts that Nabokov implements the original model of the "dualistic" theater in The Event and The Waltz Invention. The article's first part examines The Event as an embodiment of the theater of "secret action," in which the real conflict lies in the opposition of this "secret action" to an external spectacle imposed upon it. In the article's second part, The Event is analyzed from the standpoint of the Nabokovian theater of "the fictive viewer." It then examines Nabokov's polemic with the idea of the monistic ("sobornyi") theater (Viacheslav Ivanov, Fyodor Sologub) which is identified with the fairground booth show (balagan). Finally it explores Nabokov's metaphysical comprehension of the theater principle of "the fourth wall," which underlies not only his mature playwriting but also his work in other genres (Invitation to a Beheading, Bend Sinister, "Lik").

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