A. S. Pushkin vs. E. A. Poe: the History of V. V. Nabokov’s Performative Utterances

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: St. Petersburg State University
Address: Russian Federation,
Journal nameRusskaia literatura
EditionIssue 1

The aim of this article is to examine the ways Nabokov alluded to Pushkin and Poe in his fiction and to explore his articulated views  of the  two geniuses. Lolita, Nabokov’s most popular American novel, contains numerous allusions to both Pushkin and  Poe.  The number of incidental mentionings of Poe in Nabokov’s later fiction tends to decrease. After the  late 1960s when  he was unanimously acknowledged as one of the  most important living American authors, Nabokov demonstrates his derogatory attitude to Poe  16 times. Nabokov’s opinion of Pushkin, however, was  constantly high if not  exalted. The  article advances a hypothesis that in Lolita Nabokov used  allusions to both Pushkin and  Poe  as a Friend or Foe Identification system. It did work with Poe and failed with Pushkin. The article presents Nabokov’s articulated opinions of Pushkin and  Poe as a sequence of Austin type performative utterances, to the  extent, «I am a Russian-American Author, though you’ve failed to understand that» — «I am a great American Author, if you say that» — «I am a great Author».

KeywordsV. V. Nabokov, A. S. Pushkin, E. A. Poe, Lolita, Ultima Thule, Performative Utterances
Publication date29.03.2019
Number of characters27743
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