Absent yet Present: On the Paradoxical Nature of Characters in Nabokov’s The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

Irina Marchesini

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7557/6.3787


Russian; Nabokov; literature; absence


The present research is focused on the theme of absence, an area of inquiry that might seem dominant in the field of Nabokov Studies. The analysis, which concentrates in particular on the key figures of the novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941), notably the narrator V. and the poet Sebastian Knight, interprets the characters’ construction through the paradigm of absence. Arguably, the construction of characters in The Real Life of Sebastian Knight is paradoxical: absence constitutes their essence at a core level, as it often happens in the context of the self-conscious genre. Moreover, absence plays a key role in characters’ design, linking them to all Nabokovian novels. However, despite their innermost ‘flatness’, to use Edward M. Forster’s terminology, they still appear to be ‘round’, i.e. plausible, mimetic figures.


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Copyright (c) 2016 Irina Marchesini

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