MANDRAKE IN THE PARADISE GARDEN: PLANT IMAGES IN V. NABOKOV’S STORY “THE ENCHANTER”

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


Release:

2022, Vol. 8. № 4 (32)

Title: 
MANDRAKE IN THE PARADISE GARDEN: PLANT IMAGES IN V. NABOKOV’S STORY “THE ENCHANTER”


For citation: Drozdova A. O. 2022. “Mandrake in the Paradise Garden: plant images in V. Nabokov’s story ‘The Enchanter’”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 8, no. 4 (32), pp. 60-76. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2022-8-4-60-76

About the author:

Anastasiia O. Drozdova, Cand. Sci. (Philol.), Assistant, Department of Russian and Foreign Literature, University of Tyumen; an.o.droz@gmail.com; ORCID: 0000-0001-5728-142X

Abstract:

The paper is concerned with the plant images in V. Nabokov’s short story “The Enchanter”. We distinguish how plant imagery shapes the plot and the artistic world and characterizes the characters’ perception in the story. Our study aims to demonstrate the connection between the concepts of the natural, artificial, and unnatural in Nabokov’s aesthetic. The plant images are associated with all the three concepts: they 1) underscore the innocence of the child who becomes the victim of the maniac character; 2) refer to the others’ artistic worlds; 3) depict the corrupt fantasy of the main character. Structural-semiotic analysis allows us to determine four groups of plant images: 1) euphemistic; 2) spatial; 3) portrait; 4) images of the fantasy plants. Plant images are verbalized from the standpoint of both the main character and the third person omniscient, while poetical metaphors are combined with the Freudian clichés. The plant imagery emphasizes the parasitic nature of the main character’s fantasy and highlights the unsuccess of his language strategy to hide the banality by using the poetical commonplaces. In this paper, we compare the image of the girl-plant with the monstrous flower from H. Ewers’ novel Alraune and I. Bunin’s poem “Mandrake”. Plant images enable V. Nabokov to contrast the language and perceptual sensitiveness with the utilitarian attitude to the beauty, assessed by the writer as unnatural. Nature and creativity have the common patterns: Nabokov emphasizes that the maniac character, aestheticizing his crime, betrays himself by his disregard for the language rules.

References:

  1. Barabtarlo G. 2011. Nabokov’s Composition. Saint Petersburg: Izdatelstvo Ivana Limbakha. [In Russian]
  2. Belousova E. G. 2012. “Fairy Tale Key to V. Nabokov’s The Enchanter”. Vestnik Chelyabinskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, no. 21 (275), pp. 15-21. [In Russian]
  3. Boyd, Brian. 2010. Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years: A Biography. Saint Petersburg: Symposium Publishing House. [In Russian]
  4. Bugaeva L. D. 2011. “Nabokov and Dante”. In: Dante: pro et contra: lichnost' i nasledie Dante v otsenke russkikh mysliteley, pisateley, issledovateley, pp. 665-676. Saint Petersburg: RKhGA. [In Russian]
  5. Buks N. 1998. Scaffold in the Crystal Palace. About Russian Novels by Vladimir Nabokov. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie. [In Russian]
  6. Bunin I. A. 2006. Complete Collection of Works in 13 vols. Vol. 1. Poems (1888-1911); Stories (1892-1901). Moscow: Voskresenye. [In Russian]
  7. Göbler F. 2015. “The Entomological Discourse in Nabokov’s Prose: ‘Pilgram’”. Vestnik of Moscow State Linguistic University. Humanities, no 6 (717), pp. 142-148. [In Russian]
  8. Dal V. I. 2006. Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language in 4 vols. Vol. 4. Moscow: RIPOL classic Publishing Group. [In Russian]
  9. Dashevskaya O. A. 2000. “The mythologeme of Paradise in V. Nabokov’s Early Lyrics”. In: Rybal’chenko T. L. (ed.). Russkaya literatura v XX veke: imena, problemy, kul'turnyy dialog. Tomsk: TSU. [In Russian]
  10. RHGA. 1997. “Two Interviews from the Collection ‘Strong Opinions’”. In: V. V. Nabokov: Pro et Contra. Materialy i issledovaniya o zhizni i tvorchestve V. V. Nabokova. Antologiya. Vol. 1, pp. 134-164. Saint Petersburg: RHGA. [In Russian]
  11. Dvinyatin F. 2002. “Five landscapes with Nabokov’s lilac”. In: V. V. Nabokov: Pro et Contra. Materialy i issledovaniya o zhizni i tvorchestve V. V. Nabokova. Antologiya. Vol. 2, pp. 291-314. Saint Petersburg: RKhGA. [In Russian]
  12. Johnson D. B. 1999. “Bird Aviary in Nabokov’s ‘Ada’”. Literaturnoe obozrenie, no. 2, pp. 103-109. [In Russian]
  13. Dmitrienko O. A. 2014. “Game Landscapes and Their Classification in Nabokov’s Russian Prose”. Uchenye Zapiski Zabaikalskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta. Seriya: Filologiya, istoriya, vostokovedenie, no. 2, pp. 23-28. [In Russian]
  14. Dolinin A. 2013. “The Art of Executioner: Notes on the Subject of the Death Penalty in Nabokov”. Summer school on Russian literature, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 29-44. [In Russian]
  15. Dolinin A. 2004. The True Life of Sirin the Writer: Works about Nabokov. Saint Petersburg: Akademicheskiy proekt. [In Russian]
  16. Kropotukhina P. V. 2014. “Conceptual Domain ‘Plants’ as an Object of Linguistic Study”. Pedagogical Education in Russia, no. 6, pp. 35-39. [In Russian]
  17. Carroll L. 2004. “Alice in the Wonderlands”. Translated by V. Sirin. In: Artemenko-Tolstaya N. (ed.). Nabokov V. V. Russkiy period. Sobranie sochineniy v 5 tomakh. Vol. 1, pp. 361-433. Saint Petersburg: “Simpoizum”. [In Russian]
  18. Lipovetskiy M. 1997. “Epilogue of Russian modernism. The Artistic Philosophy of Creativity in Nabokov’s ‘The Gift’”. In: V. V. Nabokov: Pro et Contra. Materialy i issledovaniya o zhizni i tvorchestve V. V. Nabokova. Antologiya. Vol. 1, pp. 638-661. Saint Petersburg: RHGA. [In Russian]
  19. Maroshi V. V. 2014. “The Topoi of a Menagerie and a Zoo in the Russian Literature of the Second Half of 19th — Early 20th c.”. Culture and Text, no. 2 (17), pp. 155-173. [In Russian]
  20. Nabokov V. V. 2008. “The Enchanter”. In: Nabokov V. V. Russkiy period. Sobranie sochineniy v 5 tomakh. Vol. 5, pp. 43-81. Collected by N. Artemenko-Tolstaya, foreword by A. Dolinin, notes by Yu. Leving, A. Dolinin, M. Malikova, O. Skonechnaya, A. Babikov, G. Glushanok, Saint Petersburg: Simpozium. [In Russian]
  21. Nabokov V. V. 2016. Lectures on Russian Literature. Saint Petersburg: Azbuka, Azbuka-Attikus. [In Russian]
  22. Poe E. A. 1988. Poems. Collection. Collected by E. K. Nesterova. Moscow: Raduga [In Russian]
  23. Razumovskaya A. G. 2010. “‘You Feel the Fragrance of The Garden…’ The Final Pages of the Country Estate Text in Bunin's and Nabokov's Poetry”. Vestnik RGGU. Seriya: Literaturovedenie. Yazykoznanie. Kul'turologiya, no. 11 (54), pp. 138-156. [In Russian]
  24. Senderovich S., Shvarts E. 2006. “Juice of Three Oranges: Nabokov and the St. Petersburg Theatrical Avant-garde”. In: Leving Yu., Soshkin E. (eds.). Imperiya N. Nabokov i nasledniki. Sbornik statey, pp. 293-347. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie. [In Russian]
  25. Skonechnaya O. 2015. Russian Paranoid Novel: Fyodor Sologub, Andrey Bely, Vladimir Nabokov. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie. [In Russian]
  26. Toker L. 2002. Nabokov and the Ethics of Camouflage”. In: V. V. Nabokov: Pro et Contra. Materialy i issledovaniya o zhizni i tvorchestve V. V. Nabokova. Antologiya. Vol. 2, pp. 377-386. Saint Petersburg: RKhGA. [In Russian]
  27. Inostrannaya literatura. 1995. “Three Interview with Vladimir Nabokov”. Inostrannaya literatura, no. 11, pp. 232-248. [In Russian]
  28. Faryno Je. 2004. Introduction in the Literary Theory: Study Guide. Saint Petersburg: HSPU. [In Russian]
  29. Chekhov A. P. 1962. Collected Works in 12 vols. Vol. 8. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo khudozhestvennoy literatury. [In Russian]
  30. Ewers H. H. 1997. Works in 2 vols. Vol. 1. Horror: Extraordinary Stories. Translated from German. Alraune: A Novel. Translated by M. Kadish; collected by A. Finkelshteyn. Moscow: TERRA. [In Russian]
  31. Alexandrov V. E. 1995. “Nature and Artifice”. In: V. Alexandrov (ed.). The Garland Companion to Vladimir Nabokov, pp. 553-556. New York, Oxon: Routledge.
  32. Grishakova M. 2012. The Models of Space, Time, and Vision in V. Nabokov’s Fiction: Narrative Strategies and Cultural Frames. Tartu: University of Tartu.
  33. Moudrov A. 2010. “Nabokov’s Invitation to Plato’s Beheading”. In: Yu. Leving (ed.). The Goalkeeper: The Nabokov Almanac. Boston: Academic Studies Press. DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt1zxsk4n.9
  34. Poulin I. 2020. “Translation as Craft and Heroic Deed: On the Political Stakes of a Multilingual Sensoriality”. In: Bouchet M., Loison-Charles J., Poulin I. (eds.). The Five Senses in Nabokov’s Works, pp. 157-171. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-45406-7_10
  35. Pyle R. M. 2016. “Swift and Underwing, Boulderfield and Bog: How Nabokov Drew the World from Its Details”. In: Blackwell S. H., Johnson K. (eds.). Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art, pp. 269-276. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.
  36. Remington C. L. 1995. “Lepidoptera Studies”. In: Alexandrov V. (ed.). The Garland Companion to Vladimir Nabokov, pp. 274-282. New York, Oxon: Routledge.
  37. Simoons F. J. 1998. Plants of Life, Plants of Death. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
  38. Voronina O. 2006. “The Tale of Enchanted Hunters: Lolita in Victorian Context”. In: Nabokov Studies, vol. 10, no.1, pp. 147-174. DOI: 10.1353/nab.2007.0007