The Enchanter

The Enchanter, a short story originally written in Russian in 1939 as Volshebnik (unpublished at the time); translated into English by Dmitri Nabokov and published as The Enchanter by Putnam's, 1986. (The Enchanter can be found in many public libraries and is available online from Amazon.com.)

"He knew that he was not very sociable, but also that he was resourceful, persistent, and capable of ingratiating himself; more than once, in other areas of his life, he had had to improvise a tone or apply himself tenaciously, undismayed that his immediate target was at best only indirectly related to his more remote goal. But when the goal blinds you, suffocates you, parches your throat, when healthy shame and sickly cowardice scrutinize your every step ..."

A thematic prelude to Lolita, The Enchanter was born from the same 'little shiver of inspiration.' Written in 1939, Nabokov recalls in 'On a book entitled Lolita' that he destroyed The Enchanter sometime after moving to America in 1940. A single copy of the unpublished story was discovered in 1959, when VN was occupied with several other projects and presumably could not turn his attention to the novella. The manuscript resurfaced and came to Dmitri Nabokov's attention in the early 1980s, and a translation into English was completed in 1985.

"In both translation and commentary I have tried hard to stick to the Nabokov rules: precision, artistic fidelity, no padding, no ascribing. Any conjecture beyond what I have ventured would violate those rules."
Dmitri Nabokov, 'On a Book Entitled "The Enchanter"'

Michael Juliar. A Note about the possible inspiration for The Enchanter and Lolita.

A Bibliography of Critical Works on The Enchanter

WORKS

MARY | KING, QUEEN, KNAVE | THE DEFENSE
GLORY | LAUGHTER IN THE DARK | DESPAIR
THE GIFT | INVITATION TO A BEHEADING | THE EYE
THE ENCHANTER | THE REAL LIFE OF SEBASTIAN KNIGHT
BEND SINISTER | LOLITA | PNIN | PALE FIRE
ADA | TRANSPARENT THINGS | LOOK AT THE HARLEQUINS!
THE ORIGINAL OF LAURA


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