Belova T.N. V.V. Nabokov – the Researcher of Russian Literature (peculiarities of critical approach)
The article considers the main peculiarities of Nabokov’s critical approach to the work of the famous Russian writers of the XIX-th century. Sharing the formal postulates of «New criticism» – a very influential critical trend in the USA at that time – and bent for new postmodern tendencies in literature he combines these two critical approaches in the evaluation of their work.
According to Nabokov a talented writer as L. Tolstoy and N. Gogol created a unique new world, a kind of a mirage which has nothing to do with reality. Thus the work of genious is a phenomenon of style (or language) but not the picture of real life: one can even feel the existence of the parallel Otherworld in it, which transcendentally effects the artist’s consciousness. As a postmodern writer Nabokov perceives the text metaphorically with a great deal of associations and intuitionalism. Thus he depicts Gogol as a lonely insane marginal hero with a maniacal idea of reorganizing Russian society on new moral and religious principles. He finds in his works such postmodern patterns as simultaneity, irrationality, neologisms and the Otherworld, but as an artist he feels the poetry of genuine folk life – due to extended metaphors the Russian writer creates «tender warm» images of living people. Thus the metaphorical style of writing is of great importance for Nabokov in evaluation of the writer’s genius. He also praises Tolstoy who invented a new method of depicting life and death: the author is invisible in his works but his presence is felt everywhere like the presence of the Creator in the Universe. Nabokov considers death in «Anna Karenina» and «The Death of Ivan Illiych» from the point of view of a postmodern writer – as a new birth in the Otherworld, free from absurd chaos of earthly life. Metaphoric style is used by Nabokov while analyzing works of Turgenev and Chekhov: the latter’s stories are built on the system of waves, i.e. the shades of the author’s mood and spirits.
Speaking about Chekhov and Turgenev as talented writers he tries to dethrone F. Dostoyevsky, to make him a broken idol. He argues that the writer created a gloomy world of the insane and his works lack harmony and beauty under the influence of western sentimental and gothic novels. Nabokov considers his work to be banal, tasteless and mediocre though he himself is much indebted him as a disciple.
So Nabokov tries from the point of the postmodern aesthetic trend to revalue the «leading lights» of Russian literature: those are Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky. Such superliterary position is the source of his grotesque ludicrous parodical modus of narration.
Possibly his negative pathos was also intended to hide certain traces of his literary predecessors who effected his works so whimsically and fancifully.