Abstract

Alexander Dolinin claims that after a creatively combative engagement with the Russian literary tradition in his early years, Nabokov, on switching to English, disavowed that former engagement, diminished his own Russian achievement, and offered a "mythmaking" self-portrayal as "a born cosmopolitan" standing "apart from literary battles and discussions." I show that this is mythmaking. Nabokov did not consistently deprecate his own Russian work, consistently stressed his engagement with Russian émigré literature and criticism and his own Russianness, and passionately sought to have his Russian work and what he valued in the Russian tradition read and appreciated by his non-Russian audience. If he Anglicized allusions in translating his Russian work, he Russianized allusions when translating from English and French. Nabokov's severity not only on literature he deemed overrated and meretricious but on some of his own past work and on what he thought the masterpieces of world literature can be explained not in terms of a mythmaking repudiation of his Russianness but in terms of an aspect of his thought that has not been sufficiently appreciated: his strongly melioristic sense of cultural development that he imbibed in part from his father and from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century cultural thought.

Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9965
Print ISSN
1080-1219
Launched on MUSE
2009-10-04
Open Access
No
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