Monday, 20 February 2017

transparent things [nabakov]

Nabokov is a name imbued with such a mystique that it’s in danger of overwhelming the reading experience. How do you judge the work of a alt-20th centre master? It’s too many years since I read his work. Mr C recommended Transparent Things. I have dutifully read this somewhat clumsy narrative, detailing the life and times of Mr Person, a thinly developed character whose love life is brought to an abrupt end when he strangles his wife in his sleep. Nabakov lends a strange insularity to the story. He both inhabits Person’s perspective and observes it. You might say there are suggestions of the development of the modern roman a la Toussaint or Chefjec, if it weren’t for the mannered narrative tone, which accentuates the presence of the author at every step. In calling his protagonist Person, there’s the suggestion he might be being presented as an everyman. Only Person feels like such a recherché figure, with his Alpine trips and his unlikely womanising, that one can’t help thinking in the end that this is an everyman dreamt up by a writer who had become so far removed from the everyday that he no longer had much of an idea of what an everyman might be. 

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