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Kafka's Reality and Nabokov's Fantasy. On Dwarves, Saints, Beetles, Symbolism, and Genius

Kafka's Reality and Nabokov's Fantasy. On Dwarves, Saints, Beetles, Symbolism, and Genius COMPARATIVE LITERATURE /316 with certitude. But they are not the only questions we might pose. Though critics have been most attracted by the sport of potential influence,1 in the following I argue that there are other and more interesting grounds for studying Nabokov’s reflections on Kafka and that these are to be found in Nabokov’s singular interpretation of The Metamorphosis and what that interpretation has to say about his rules for good reading and good writing. 2. Dwarves and Saints Nabokov lived in Berlin from 1922 to 1937 and over the course of those eighteen years seems to have concerned himself as little as possible with German language, culture, politics—and Germany itself. Besides the lessons he gave in tennis, boxing, French, English, and Russian—lessons that allowed him and his family a precarious subsistence—his social and intellectual activity remained solidly within the sphere of Berlin’s Russian émigré community (then the largest in Europe and only to be eclipsed by that of Paris in the mid 1930s). Though as a youth Nabokov had known enough German to translate short poems by Heine and Goethe into Russian, he later claimed to have next to no working knowledge of the language and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Kafka's Reality and Nabokov's Fantasy. On Dwarves, Saints, Beetles, Symbolism, and Genius

Comparative Literature , Volume 59 (4) – Jan 1, 2007

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2007 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-59-4-315
Publisher site
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Abstract

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE /316 with certitude. But they are not the only questions we might pose. Though critics have been most attracted by the sport of potential influence,1 in the following I argue that there are other and more interesting grounds for studying Nabokov’s reflections on Kafka and that these are to be found in Nabokov’s singular interpretation of The Metamorphosis and what that interpretation has to say about his rules for good reading and good writing. 2. Dwarves and Saints Nabokov lived in Berlin from 1922 to 1937 and over the course of those eighteen years seems to have concerned himself as little as possible with German language, culture, politics—and Germany itself. Besides the lessons he gave in tennis, boxing, French, English, and Russian—lessons that allowed him and his family a precarious subsistence—his social and intellectual activity remained solidly within the sphere of Berlin’s Russian émigré community (then the largest in Europe and only to be eclipsed by that of Paris in the mid 1930s). Though as a youth Nabokov had known enough German to translate short poems by Heine and Goethe into Russian, he later claimed to have next to no working knowledge of the language and

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2007

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