Dar (The Gift)
"Some day, he thought, I must use such a scene to start a good thick old-fashioned novel. The fleeting thought was touched with a careless irony; an irony, however, that was quite unecessary, because somebody within him, on his behalf, independently from him, had absorbed all this, recorded it, and filed it away."
The Gift was the last novel Nabokov completed in Russian, and remains the most highly and widely praised of his Russian works. Fyodor, a young Russian émigré living in Berlin, is a genuinely gifted writer, and his meditations upon art and the consciousness of the artist provide the current which carries the book along. The novel's five chapters comprise a paean to Russian literature, and assert and celebrate the value and vitality of Russian literatry tradition.
"Its heroine is not Zina, but Russian literature. The plot of Chapter One centres in Fyodor's poems. Chapter Two is a surge toward Pushkin in Fyodor's literary progress and contains his attempt to describe his father's zoological explorations. Chapter Three shifts to Gogol, but its real hub is the love poem dedicated to Zina. Fyodor's book on Chernyshevski, a spiral within a sonnet, takes care of Chapter Four. The last chapter combines all the preceding themes and adumbrates the book Fyodor dreams of writing someday: The Gift."
"For many readers this novel will be put on their bookshelves beside the stories of Tolstoy and Chekhov ..."
"... 'The Gift' seems to me not just brilliant (Nabokov is always that), but also profound and persuasive ..."
A Bibliography of Critical Works on The Gift
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