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Nabokov Studies 5 (1998/1999) Review of A. M. Luxemburg and G. F. Rakhimkulova, Magistr igry vivÃ-an van bok: Igra slov ν proze Vladimira Nabokova ν svete teorii kalambura. Rostov-na-Donu: Rostovskii gosudarstvennyi universitet, 1996, 201 pp. In Russian (Abstract in Russian and English). Review by Anat Vernitski When Nabokov expresses in his last Russian novel, Dar, his wish to return to Russia in his books, if this is not possible to be done in person, he adds the cautious qualification: "or maybe in a researcher's footnote." Since then, not only has he returned to Russia in his books, but also in a growing number of critical works devoted to his Âœuvre. Now that the initial euphoria of the actual return of Nabokov to his homeland is gradually being replaced by a more critical approach to the actual works published, it is a matter of great interest to be able to assess the cunent situation of Nabokov studies in Russia. Luxemburg and Rakhimkulova's book, unfortunately, is not a good example of this growing area of criticism. Published as a modest book on poor-quality paper and at times almost illegible printing, the book is in danger of being rejected on first approach only on grounds of convenience. Adding to these charms the effects of careless editing, which allowed for a large number of misprints to remain in the final product, I rather wonder if my review here does become superfluous. Yet such technical misgivings could have been caused by the financial limitations we are all aware of, thus could have been ignored in the case of an interesting and innovative work. We would be filled with admiration, even pity, at the sight of selfless academics who keep working in such harsh conditions . Unfortunately, again, this is not the case. The book sets out to analyse Nabokov's use of puns and word-play. Surprisingly , the authors recommend their book as a study of a neglected area. Although they do mention some predecessors—mostly not the obvious ones, but rather a list of less-known works connected, sometimes loosely, to the subject at hand—there is no acknowledgment of the fact that thorough studies of this aspect of Nabokov's writing have long been available. One should only mention D. Barton Johnson's Worlds in Regression for the analysis of puns and word-play as denoting hidden concepts, or highlighting themes, in Nabokov's works, and Elizabeth Klosty Beaujour's Alien Tongues, which studies Nabokov's puns and word-play in the context of bilingual writings. As opposed to the two books mentioned here, Luxemburg and Rakhimkulova 's Magistr igry vivÃ-an van bok does not add to our understanding of 236 Nabokov Studies Nabokov's Âœuvre. It is a detailed listing of puns and word-plays, in an accumulative manner which does not lead to new conclusions. Those who are already convinced in the central importance of puns and word-plays as a key to understanding Nabokov's world may try to plough Magistr igry in an attempt to find examples which escaped them. Or would they? I rather believe that a well chosen selective study of examples, with argumentative analysis, would be much more convincing. As for those, like myself, who rather believe that there are other elements of Nabokov's writing which deserve attentive study, they would not only fail to be convinced by the presentation of more and more puns and world-plays, but would also find it extremely difficult to read the book, in which writing there is nothing to help promote such interest. Not surprisingly, the style of the book is as tedious as the list of examples it attempts to support. ...


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