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The Elusiveness of Superficial Reality in Nabokov's 'The Vane Sisters'

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概要 In addition to his better known novels, Vladimir Nabokov also published sixty-five short stories in Russian, French and English His penultimate English short story, ‘The Vane Sisters', was written in... 1951. Nabokov himself regarded this tale as being one of his three best efforts in this genre. `The Vane Sisters' is an attempt by Nabokov to look into the world of spiritualism through the eyes of a somewhat obtuse French professor who tends to focus on the details of life around him while missing all the meaning and significance behind many of those details. The story demonstrates the author’s amazing descriptive abilities to capture an image or a moment as he both records and relates all the hidden surprises of a sunny day in a snowy, rural New York college town. The story is carefully told by the French professor who prides himself in having a sharp eye and extremely accurate visual sense. In addition, to physical details that surround him, the narrator also finds great satisfaction in noticing the little secrets and scandals of all the people that cross his path in life. He is always serenely satisfied with himself and condescendingly critical of others. He happens to become involved with two sisters who both ironically die in the story. One of the sisters was his French student who committed suicide after a failed love affair. The other is her older sister who tried to get the narrator to stop the affair and later died from some unknown cause. The older sister had a strong belief in the spiritual world of afterlife and beyond. Her relationship with the author after her sister’s suicide has had a strong influence on the narrator but he cannot fully understand to what extent since he is unable to see the hidden meanings in the signs and symbols that surround him. ‘The Vane Sisters’ is a great example of Nabokov’s artistic purpose and objectives regarding fiction in general and the short story in particular. Nabokov shows meticulous attention to the details of the outer world, and a clear eye for the inner world of human desire, despair and compulsion. In this story, Nabokov also provides the reader with a promise of the existence of something that lies beyond the world of sight, sound and perception. This story is told on different levels at the same time. It is a pleasant experience for the reader to slowly discover that the main story has been woven into the superficial one that the reader encounters on the surface level. Nabokov allows the reader to speculate with him on the nature of a spiritual world that seems to pervade his story yet constantly remains elusive. The Key to the story is quite interestingly found in the last paragraph which helps us to solve the mysterious spiritual message that the narrator has been searching for from the deceased sisters.続きを見る

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登録日 2009.04.22
更新日 2016.09.28