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'The Gift' by Vladimir Nabokov - Some reflections


sirinrob
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I'm currently rereading 'TheGift' by V Nabokov. I chanced on an article by S Blackwell recently which touched on the role science played in this novel. My interest piqued, I started to follow possibilities within the novel which , to my knowledege, have not been expored till now. My focus is on the role gemstones play. The first instance occurs in Chapter 1 where Fydor is describing the view from his room.

 

For some time he stood by the window. In the curds-and-whey sky opalinepits now and then formed where the blind sun circulated..

 

The possibilities from this are manifold. Firstly opaline as an adjective means resemblimg opal esp in colour or iridescence [OED]. In my view this is a literal description of what Fydor saw. Turning to the noun things get a bit more intersting. The definition I have is 'A variety of yellow chalcedony which presents an opaline semi-opacity' [OED]

 

The noun definition is rich in allusions, as subsequent research has shown. Opaline as a precious stone is sometimes referred to as Moonlight-Stone, which would fit with the curds-and whey sky and also the blind sun = moon. given that this early evening it is entirely posible that Fydor could see the moon. Opaline in both cases suggests a veil. Immediately after Fydor drifts into a reverie about his childhood, so the opaline pits could refer to a distant memory. Also as this novel is often regarded as a mature expansion on 'Mary', then it could be an allusion to Ganin's penultimate meeting with Mary. In that meeting Mary was effectively wearing a wedding dress complete with veil and it was a moon lit night. Another possible connection is with Zina who initially Fydor meets at night.

 

So from a simple sentence , many possibilities spring. this is the beauty of Nabokov.

 

As a footnote I'm currently exploring the posibility of submiiting an article to the Nabokovian Journal with the assistance of S Blackwell *gulp*

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