Nabokov’s Reflection on His Own and Others’ Works in the Short Novel “Vasiliy Shishkov” and Poem “The Poets”

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2020, Vol. 6. № 2 (22)

Nabokov’s Reflection on His Own and Others’ Works in the Short Novel “Vasiliy Shishkov” and Poem “The Poets”

For citation: Rogacheva N. A., Drozdova A. O. 2020. “Nabokov’s Reflection on His Own and Others’ Works in the Short Novel ‘Vasiliy Shishkov’ and Poem ‘The Poets’”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 6, no. 2 (22), pp. 64-78. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2020-6-2-64-78

About the authors:

Natalia A. Rogachova, Dr. Sci. (Philol.), Professor, Head of the Department of Russian and Foreign Literature, University of Tyumen;; ORCID: 0000-0001-8424-1861

Anastasiia O. Drozdova, Postgraduate Student, Department of Russian and Foreign Literature, University of Tyumen;; ORCID: 0000-0001-5728-142X


The problem of Nabokov’s artistic identity is relevant for contemporary literature studies. The researchers interpret writer’s estimation of his Russian works differently: in his American years, Nabokov (1) created a new artistic identity (A. Dolinin) and started a new career (N. Cornwell) or (2) developed his general themes (B. Boyd), targeted at English readers. The unique status of the texts written in French is defined by their “phantom” nature (M. Malikova) and the “final work with the literature legacy” (A. Babikov). In our research, the problem of Nabokov’s identity is analyzed for the first time in its connection with the methods of creation of the “phantom” fictional world. Our research subject includes the poem “The Poets” and the short story “Vasiliy Shishkov”. The texts are considered within the literary-critical and artistic contexts. The purpose of this article is to determine how the reflection of one’s own and other people’s creativity is built in these works, taking into account that perceptual imagery serves as tools for aesthetic assessment for Nabokov. The main research method in the work is structural-semiotic analysis: perceptual images are characterized by the variety of their localization, by the method of creation and distribution, by their attitude to the background, etc. The structural-semiotic approach to the analysis of literary texts has revealed the value of “phantom” or “distinctness” in Nabokov’s artistic optics. The intensity of sensations is directly related to the status of the subject of perception and to its position in the hierarchy of fictional worlds (Vasily Shishkov is the fiction of the narrator, the narrator is the fiction of the emigrant writer Nabokov). The impossibility of reliable perception, its continuity and limitation within the framework of an entire era or individual life are assessed by Nabokov as important conditions for creative development, especially significant in a situation of reflection on a new addressee art creation.


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