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224 Nabokov Studies ing of Nabokov's cosmological aesthetics in the curious 1951 story. While I am sympathetic with the author's investigation of "how . . . Nabokov use[s] the conventions of science fiction to untangle the paradoxes of self-transcendence" (188), I also wish she had made a value judgment about the story, probably the weakest of Nabokov's English fictions. Perhaps the reason for Nabokov's unsuccessful attempt at sci-fi lies in the underlying two-wodd cosmology of his works which requires no "fantastical" world of spaceships and black holes. Susan Elisabeth Sweeney's "The Small Furious Devil: Memory in 'Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster"' explores the reasons Nabokov failed in his experiment at combining exhilarating fictional (and litera ry-subtextual) memories with painful personal ones. Announced as an installment of a longer study of Nabokov's relationship with his brother Sergei, Sweeney's is the finest reading we have of the unfinished 1950 story. Concluding the collection, Mikhail Epstein's provocative "Goodbye to Objects, or the Nabokovian in Nabokov" concentrates on what the critic terms Nabokov's "side vision" (219). Epstein claims a connection between the Russian nábok (literally "leaning sideways") encoded in Nabokov's last name (I find this much too far-fetched, the last name Nabokov being of Tatar origin, from a historical figure, Nabók) and the uniquely Nabokovian technique of shifting away from objects after having described them. Admiring Epstein's wit and audition coloree, I wonder whether his piece, a fine specimen of non-academic essayism, belongs to this collection- of scholarly articles. All considered, the biggest achievement of this collective undertaking by sixteen distinguished critics is in the line of scholarly inquiry that it opens up. Those who have previously viewed Nabokov's short stories as mere footnotes to his novels will leave this book with both a heightened interest in and a new awareness of Nabokov's place among the world's finest story-writers, Maupassant, Bunin, or Hemingway. Maxim D. Shrayer Yale University Julian W. Connolly. Nabokov's Early Fiction: Patterns of Self and Other. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, 279 pp. The problem of self and other, as well as the associated issues of other minds and of the relationship between individual achievement and human solidarity, are widely discussed in contemporary scholarship. The study of Nabokov's work could also contribute to this enquiry. However, as the composite title of Julian Connolly's book suggests, the au trior's primary aim is to trace the evolution of a theme in Nabokov's Russian-language fiction rather than to integrate the exploration of this theme into the on-going philosophical debate. Book Reviews 225 Therefore, though the conceptual matrix of the book takes advantage of some of the categories used in adjacent disciplines, its key elements are derived from the moral/epistemological scaffolding constructed in Nabokov's works. The chapter division of the book suggests that seven phases can be distinguished in Nabokov's fiction before World War II, each phase dominated by a specific aspect of the theme of self and other. The most prominent thematic pattern of the first phase, for instance, is a character's obsessive preoccupation with an absent other; later patterns include a character's resistance—wholesome or morbid—to the claims of others, a character's anxiety about his own image in the minds of others, and a character's relationship with the author. Each chapter of the book begins with a discussion of one or more short stories that belong to the same brief period and then goes over to the novel in which the pattern that transpires in the stories is given an extensive treatment. This structure has the additional advantage of helping to demonstrate the multiplicity of links between Nabokov's short stories and his novels, the permanence of his thematic concerns, and his tendency to continue the exploration of the artistic possibilities inherent in his images and motifs beyond the limits of a single text. Julian Connolly associates the theme of the self and other with that of artistic creativity, showing that in Nabokov's worlds true creativeness involves responsiveness (at no small cost to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9965
Print ISSN
1080-1219
Pages
pp. 224-226
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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