Abstract

Nabokov once wrote: "We have a chess set with us, Shakespeare and Pushkin. That's all we need." Literary scholars seem to be seduced by an obvious metonymy. They divide Nabokov's oeuvre into two domains: the Russian, dominated by Pushkin, and the English, centered on Shakespeare. This approach has provided innumerable insights—some of them brilliant—into the intertextual presence of these bards in their respective domains. But at the same time it has set certain boundaries for "cultural exchange" between these two literary kingdoms. This article considers the influence of Shakespeare's Hamlet, which Nabokov attempted to translate in the 1930s, on The Gift; and demonstrates how motives, compositional devices, and images of Shakespeare's play show through the texture of the novel that Nabokov called the "acme" of his Russian period. Nabokov's technique of incorporating subtexts into his oeuvre is again filigreed, diverse, and, at times, sly: he hides and parodies, haunts and highlights his text with the ghosts of the Great Dane, his poignantly maturing son, and the motley crew of comedians around them.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9965
Print ISSN
1080-1219
Pages
pp. 191-208
Launched on MUSE
2005-10-13
Open Access
No
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