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The Gift is the last of the novels Nabokov wrote in his native Russian and the crowning achievement of that period in his literary career. It is also his ode to Russian literature, evoking the works of Pushkin, Gogol, and others in the course of its narrative: the story of Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev, an impoverished émigré poet living in Berlin, who dreams of the book he will someday write--a book very much like The Gift itself.
stopped at the first step (the emancipation of the peasants) “it would stop on the brink of an abyss—let those with ears to hear, hear.” (They heard him; he was immediately ex-pulsed.) Nekrasov read some poor but “powerful” verses dedicated to the memory of Dobrolyubov, and Kurochkin read a translation of Béranger’s “The Little Bird” (the captive’s languishment and the rapture of sudden freedom); Chernyshevski’s speech was also on Dobrolyubov. Greeted with massive applause (the youth of those
zigzag behind her at a reduced pace, as you sometimes see a dog do, weaving and shoving its nose past its master’s heel now on the right, now on the left. They were admitted by Alexandra Yakovlevna herself. Fyodor had scarcely time to notice her unusual expression (as if she disapproved of something or wanted to avert something quickly), when her husband darted into the hallway on his short plump legs, waving a newspaper as he ran. “Here it is,” he shouted, the corner of his mouth violently
recall how once at such a sunset, in 1893, in the dead heart of the Gobi desert he had met with—taking them at first for phantoms projected by the prismatic rays—two cyclists in Chinese sandals and round felt hats, who turned out to be the Americans Sachtleben and Allen, riding all across Asia to Peking for fun. Spring awaited us in the mountains of Nan-Shan. Everything foretold it: the babbling of the water in the brooks, the distant thunder of the rivers, the whistle of the creepers which
“induce in the reader an indefinite but insuperable repulsion. People friendly to Koncheyev’s talent will probably think them enchanting. We shall not quarrel—perhaps this is really so. But in our difficult times with their new responsibilities, when the very air is imbued with a subtle moral angoisse (an awareness of which is the infallible mark of ‘genuineness’ in a contemporary poet), abstract and melodious little pieces about dreamy visions are incapable of seducing anyone. And in truth it is
the book—and recognized in it a pleasantly worn, pleasantly softened up by two years of use (this was something quite new to him) copy of his collection of poems. He began very slowly to unstopper his bottle of ink—although at other times, when he wanted to write, the cork would pop out as that in a bottle of champagne; meanwhile, Zina, watching his fingers fumbling the cork, added hastily: “Only your name, please, only your name.” F. Godunov-Cherdyntsev signed his name and was about to put the