Monday, March 13, 2017

Miscellaneous Monday—Number Two

"Revising Nabokov Revising the Detective Novel: Vladimir, Agatha, and the Terms of Engagement."
By Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy (1951-2015). Introduction by Ronald Meyer.
Article, 8 pages (with illos), 2015.
Online (HERE) (PDF).
(Note: Some SPOILERS for Christie's works.)
Credit: Painting by Ellen van Boggelen-Heutink (
"There are some varieties of fiction that I never touch—mystery stories, for instance, which I abhor . . ." — Nabokov (1973)
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)—the famous author of Lolita (novel, 1955; film, 1962)—and detective fiction at first don't seem to have much in common; as it turns out, what common-ality there is, as you can see from the quote, is one of intense hatred on Nabokov's part for detective stories. But, as our author shows, while he might have publicly detested mysteries, he wasn't above stealing an idea or two from the Queen of Crime and sneaking them into his own works.

Several excerpts:

   "In Nabokov’s first novel composed directly in English, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Nabokov not only toys with the basic mechanisms of the detective novel, but again appears to invoke a specific Christie text (or even texts)."

   "This leads me inevitably to the third work I wish to adduce here, the Nabokov novel that most obviously and centrally plays on the convention of the detective novel in general and, I believe, on a well-known Agatha Christie novel in particular—Despair."

   "While Nabokov might not have shared [Edmund] Wilson’s explanation of the reasons for the genre’s popularity, he certainly recognized that the immense success of the detective novel made it a force to reckon with—especially as he was making his transition to writing 
in English, a language in which the detective novel particularly flourished."
- See the Nabokov entry on Wikipedia (HERE).
- Miscellaneous Monday—Number One is (HERE).

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