Because of his rejection of socio-political engagement, Vladimir Nabokov is often regarded as a virtuouso artist of the ivory-tower variety, aloof from the contemporary march of the minds. Marina Grishakova's book, however, points to the relationship between his narrative techniques and some of the scientific, metaphysical, and ethical ideas on the inner agenda of the twentieth century. It connects Nabokov's handling of time, space, and perspective in his fiction with the philosophical models constructed by his contemporaries, also showing in what ways he may have been ahead of his time.
Tartu semiotics, as adapted and updated by Marina Grishakova, proves to be a compatible match with Nabokov's unique "semiotic sensibility". Brian McHale, The Ohio State University (USA)
This book is essential reading not only for Nabokov specialists, but also for anyone interested in cultural semiotics, narratology, and the processes by which emerging cultural forms become transformed into individual artistic meanings. Stephen H. Blackwell, University of Tennessee (USA)
In order to analyze the cognitive models constructed in fiction and cinema, the book thoughtfully and confidently combines ideas of Russian Formalism and the Tartu-school literary theory with those of French and Anglophone classical and postclassical narratology. Leona Toker, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements 9 Introduction 11 Models and metaphors 19 Possible worlds and modeling systems 28 Time, space, and point of view as constitutive elements of the textual world 40 Nabokov as a writer and a scientist: "natural" and "artificial" patterns 51 I. The Models of Time 72 The specious present: time as a "hollow" 76 The spiral or the circle: Mary 80 1. Involution and metamorphosis 96 2. The triple dream 99 3. Nietzsche's circle of the eternal return 101 4. Time and double vision in Proust and Nabokov 105 5. Bergson's spiral of memory 108 Tempus reversus 112 Time and eternity: aevum 127 II. The Model of the Observer 134 The observer and the point of view 141 Vision and word: the seat of a semiotic conflict 156 1. H. James: The Turn of the Screw 163 2. V. Nabokov: The Eye 169 3. A. Hitchcock: Rear Window 173 Frame, motion and the observer 177 III. The Models of Vision 187 Automatism and disturbed vision 187 Inhibition and artistic failure 198 Camera obscura 204 Nabokov's visual devices 209 IV. The Doubles and Mirrors 219 V. Multidimensional Worlds 231 The outside and the inside 231 Bend Sinister as a multilayer dream 250 The worlds of seduction: Lolita 273 Conclusion 282 Bibliography 287 Index