Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics

Self-Conscious Paralepsis in Vladimir Nabokov's Pnin and "Recruiting" Author(s): Leona Toker Reviewed work(s): Source: Poetics Today, Vol. 7, No. 3, Poetics of Fiction (1986), pp. 459-469 Published by: Duke University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1772506 . Accessed: 11/02/2012 13:40
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"extradiegetic") yet eventually turn out to be fleshand-ink inhabitants of the fictional world. in Defoe's Moll Flanders or Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights) to their invention or imaginative reconstruction of episodes on the basis of circumstantial evidence alone (e.g. This technique can be accounted for as Nabokov's developing the potentialities inherent in two other narrative modes. Hebrew University And it will touch the heart of someone Nabokov's version of Eugene Onegin. and maugre all his impertinent griefs. XL. Vol. both easily describable in Genette's terms. Absalom!).. in the instances of the other tech1. -he is my creature. For a discussion of the applicability of these categories to Nabokov's The Real Life of Sebastian Knight see Rimmon (1976:489-512). Whereas in the case of paralepsis the intradiegetic narrators usurp the prerogatives of omniscience. 2. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nature says. "intradiegetic" (Genette 1972:238) narrators who have boldly overstepped the limits of their competence.1 The two works are characterized by a narrative about-face: the narrators begin by seeming omniscient (or. Paralepsis ranges from the focal characters' detailed accounts of episodes about which they heard from others but which they did not witness themselves (e.g. Poetics Today.SELF-CONSCIOUS PARALEPSIS IN VLADIMIR NABOKOV'S PNIN AND "RECRUITING" LEONA TOKER English. Vladimir Nabokov's novel Pnin (1957) and short story "Recruiting" (1935) provide a test for some categories suggested in Genette's Figures III (1972). 7:3 (1986) 459-469 . The first of these is the phenomenon of "paralepsis" (Genette 1972:211): the narrative temporarily deviates from the dominant focalization and provides more information than is available to the focal character. that is. in Faulkner's Absalom. Nature. in spite of real sorrows. in Genette's terms.. he shall be glad with me. In the presence of nature a wild delight runs through the man.

where. This is due not to the larger relative length of the "first-person" narrative blocks but to the intradiegetic narrators' avowed responsibility for the pseudo-omniscient passages as well as to their admission (direct in "Recruiting" and oblique in Pnin) of their cognitive unreliability. It must be noted that by the time Nabokov revised the English translation of the novel he had already had a chance of mentioning this experimentation with the point of view in Madame Bovary to his students. unreliable. See Nabokov (1964:47-48). as though the novel were narrated by a Russian equivalent of the Aubrey McFate who appears in the middle of Lolita's Ramsdale classlist.460 LEONA TOKER nique with which Nabokov toys in Pnin and "Recruiting. Absalom!. the narrating voice is always felt to be that of an extradiegetic omniscient narrator not generally identifiable with the diegetic "I" or "we" to whom the focus is attributed for a rather brief while. In Pnin and "Recruiting" Nabokov performs a synthesis of the above two opposite tendencies. Most of the story-tellers in Absalom. In other words. and their reliability is a matter of that willing suspension of disbelief which characterizes the reading of omniscient narratives. 3.3 yet. A character who participates in the diegetic level of action is subject to common limitations of human perception: inside views of other characters are beyond his reach otherwise than through conjecture which is. However. in Vanity Fair and Madame Bovary. where the narrator seems to be among young Bovary's classmates. One may note that Nabokov adopts this procedure for his 1964 English version of The Defense. "out of the rag-tag and bob-ends of old tales and talking. . Absalom! are aware that they are creating. 1930). as it will be 2. This shift to the first-person plural does not occur in the Russian version of the novel (Zashchita Luzhina. see Nabokov (1980:151). The seemingly omniscient stretches of the narrative in both the novel and the short story do turn out to be paraleptic. This technique is evident in the "German chapters" of Thackeray's Vanity Fair. people who perhaps had never existed at all anywhere" (Faulkner 1936:303). where the omniscient narrator seems to identify himself with an Englishman who observes Amelia Osborne in Pumpernickel. by definition." the omniscient narrator makes a temporary pretence of relinquishing these prerogatives and of rubbing shoulders with his characters by shifting the focus upon an anonymous "I" who appears on the diegetic level. or at the beginning of Flaubert's Madame Bovary. as in Flaubert's Madame Bovary.2 first-person plural is used in the account of a classroom scene. The paralepsis of Pnin and "Recruting" is as self-conscious as that of Absalom. the narrators' seeming descent from the extradiegetic to the diegetic level does not invalidate the inside views and other information provided elsewhere in the two novels. The blocks of information not accessible to this "I" (or "eye") are therefore not felt to be paraleptic.

Absalom!. The narrator of Pnin seems to be familiar with the main events of the protagonist's life. The analysis of Nabokov's technique must also base itself. dreams up a whole life story for him.) and. Lake. on the rather unique critical notion of the artist's own coinage. Cf. unlike that of Absalom. it is also selfcancelling. he admits having taken liberties with the image of the stranger on the bench. 1. This story may be compared to a young painter's etude which is overtly devoted to developing a skill later to be implemented in a major picture and half-concealed by its own perfection. 5. . and by the time the stranger walks away the reader is awakened from the narrator's dream. Cf.5 Of these two works. to quote the latter. Naumann (1978:9).SELF-CONSCIOUS PARALEPSIS IN NABOKOV 461 shown below. that the structure (both as the peculiarities of the sjuzet and as the patterning of the fabula) is a metaphor4 of which "the main structural idea" is an explication. Thus." The main structural idea of "Recruiting" and Pnin is. Here and below the abbreviation P indicates that the reference is to Pnin (Nabokov 1957). The stranger seems to be exactly the kind of episodic character whom the narrator needs for a novel he is working on. As any explication." the resemblance and the difference between life and text is the structural principle of The Defense and "Signs and Symbols. This is the notion of the "main structural idea" (Nabokov 1944: 148). The word "idea" suggests that the narrative structure is rooted in the theme or in the mimetic contents of a work of fiction. that of a "quest [that] overrides the goal" (P: 143). The abbreviation R indicates that the reference is to the text of "Recruiting" as it appears in Nabokov (1975:101-110). The protagonists of both works are characters in flight from authors. it cannot be formulated with scientific conciseness. He names him Vasiliy Ivanovich (V. but it can be given a provisional name. however. "Recruiting" is a more concentrated study of self-conscious paralepsis as vehicle of the narrator's quest. Eventually. 6. in a flash. that is. Zeller's (1974:280-290) excellent discussion of the metaphorical function of fabula patterns in Nabokov's Ada. however. the setting of the 4. Having met Pnin many times and having ultimately replaced him at the Waindell College. The shabby fat old gentleman who is helped off a tram and sits down on a bench in a little street garden leaves rather soon after the narrator of "Recruiting" places himself on the bench beside him." and the systole-diastole rhythm is the structural principle of Bend Sinister and "Cloud. pervasive ambiguity is the structural idea of Invitation to a Beheading (see Toker 1982) and "Terra Incognita.6 In "Recruiting" the structural experimentation is not only more radical than in Pnin but also practically laid bare. Castle.I.

from the following connections: a. but. Pnin's "passionate intrigue" (P:40) with Joan's washing machine. paraleptic and unreliable. The young clerk at the Whitchurch bus station." for example. Moody (1976:73-77). For a more detailed discussion of the narrative structure of Pnin see Toker (1983).8 and hastily departs from Waindell in order to avoid him. in fact. the monoplane would produce "fascinating thick tworls" (P:177) when wound up. . of Robert Karlovich Horn." the narrator of Pnin does not directly acknowledge his lack of cognitive reliability. that on one occasion tears his rubber-soled white canvas shoes. Cf. who denies the accuracy of the narrator's memories (P:180). as it were.'s obituary occupied a prominent place in [my newspaper]. 8.'s tram ride 7.'s morning some sort of setting as gloomy and typical as possible. The narrator of Pnin likewise places the protagonist into situations where he is observed behaving "in character. however. I repeat. buying a soccer ball for his ex-wife's son or visiting friends at their summer house. b. this episode is reminiscent of V. We are not told explicitly that Pnin's Waindell life is cryptographically woven out of the narrator's scant eye-witness information. is named Bob Horn in memory. 2. I happened to arrange for him that trip to the funeral. The details that furnish the experience ascribed to the protagonists are borrowed from the episodes in which the focus is attributed not to the protagonists but to the narrators. for he was exactly the type you see at Russian ceremonies abroad (R: 108). the narrator claims authority on Pnin's biography. Eventually. Incidentally. and that is how.I.462 LEONA TOKER novel's central action. and I did wish he had really been to the cemetery. c. accuses him of being a "dreadful inventor" (P:185).7 Unlike his counterpart in "Recruiting. for instance. leaving it for the reader to infer with some help from Pnin. Like the washing machine. Petersburg schoolroom. The narrator of "Recruiting" honestly confesses to his use of close-at-hand material: Professor D. seems to be inspired by the toy monoplane with linen wings and a rubber motor that the narrator has spotted in Pnin's St.I. but this can be inferred. The motif of Pnin's struggles with routes and time-tables can be traced to his ducking to double-check the numbers of Manhattan streets during a bus ride that he takes in the company of the narrator (P:186). the estate steward whom the narrator has seen applauding at the wrong moments during young Pnin's amateur theatricals. who prematurely takes his wife to a maternity hospital. in my hurry to give V. I was in a hurry. of the even though the paper said there would be a special announcement date. it becomes clear that most of the information that he presents with the confidence of an omniscient narrator is.

yet the gentle admonition "O Careless Reader!" (P:75) may be understood as applying to scores of cross references that we cannot possibly register on the first or even on subsequent readings. 3. which is impossible (see Moody 1976:76-77). apt and agile exponents of the motifs out of which Pnin's character is spun (cf. 1954. in Nabokov (1981: 190-198). has not yet taken place: the old man on the bench must have spent his morning in a different way. d. velvet-eyed girl" (P:179. from which the narrator imagines his V. because during the bus ride Pnin has regaled the narrator with "the magnificent account of everything he had not had sufficient time to say at the celebration on Homer's and Gogol's use of the Rambling Comparison" (P:186). while the scene on the bench in "Recruiting" seems to foreshadow Pnin's heart attack in the small. The narrative of Pnin conflicts with the calendar. The narratives of both "Recruiting" and Pnin justify the doubts that one may entertain concerning the cognitive reliability of the paraleptic passages. we have no way of knowing whether Pnin has really been in love with Mira Belochkin or whether the romance exists only in the mind of the narrator who apparently links the last name of the "slender-necked. February 15 is Tuesday in both 1953 and The narrator. I suspect that the contents of this harangue may be found in the chapter on "The Homeric Simile in Dead Souls" in Proffer (1967:67-94). just as Pnin's comments on Anna Karenin (P:122 and 129-130) may be found.9 Thus the narrators of both Pnin and "Recruiting" compete with the protagonists for the focalization of the paraleptic episodes. Belochkin is derived from the Russian diminutive for "squirrel") with the stuffed squirrel that he has glimpsed through the open door of young Pnin's schoolroom (P:177).SELF-CONSCIOUS PARALEPSIS IN NABOKOV 463 from the funeral. having just arrived. The images that build up the experience of the protagonists are taken from the experience of the narrators. For instance. the world that the narrator creates for Pnin is populated by a multitude of squirrels. however.'s funeral. in a more detailed form. Pnin's fascinating scholarly harangues seem to stem from the same episode. The narrator of "Recruiting" admits that his imagination conflicts with the "historical truth:" Professor D. does not call our attention to this slapdash chronology. Significantly. What the narrator of Pnin disguises from us with an even greater success is the fact that he tampers not only with the relative trivia of Pnin's daily existence but also with the supposed backbone of his biography.I. Pnin's dialogue with Madame seems to confirm the fact Shpolyanski at The Pines (P:131-32) 9. with a fellow emigre present on the crowded vehicle. For instance. . "formal and funereal. Nicol 1971:198-200)." city park of Whitchurch (P:19-25). He does warn us that something is amiss.

see Nabokov (1956:120). In "Recruiting" the narrator likewise refers to himself in the first person in the midst of seemingly omniscient narrative: there was an old refugee [. Thus. for all we know.I. The narrator of "Recruiting" builds the biography of his protagonist in a similar way and is quite frank about it. and for the rest rely upon memory. the protagonist is treated as a regular character and impresses the reader with the pathos and dignity of his life. After this initial impulse. yet the episode is paraleptic and. The narrator of Pnin unexpectedly claims to have helped Pnin write a letter to a newspaper. However.]. These remarks lay the ground for the narrator's appearance on the forestage in Chapter 7. a non-practicinglawyer. . that long-drawn sunset shadow of one's personal truth" (Nabokov 1958:24). just as the narrator of Pnin seems to imagine what it would feel like to have been in love with and to grieve for Mira Belochkin. "Were I a writer." the warm July wind that blows during Professor D. these spells of illusion are perforated by veiled cryptic hints at the presence of an intradiegetic narrator. 4. This odd intrusion prepares us not only for the narrator's eventual dramatic entrance upon the scene but also for his wish to use "Vasiliy Ivanovich" as copy for his novel.'s resemblance to a certain Moscow lady he has turned the stranger into the lady's brother. The distribution of material in the short story likewise prefigures that of the novel. The narrator pictures to himself what it would feel like to have lived with and to have loved such a sister.. influenced an aunt of his to smooth Pnin's migration from France to America. to have. the rest of the imaginative canvas unfolds itself with "irrepressible detail" (R:108). He tells us that due to V. which also seem to be presented by an omniscient narrator. who had also returned from the cemetery and was also of little use to anyone except me (R:104). Both the raconteurs proceed along the lines suggested by another of Nabokov's narrators.. I should allow only my heart to have imagination. the protagonist-narrator of "Spring in Fialta. the opening of the story parallels the first six chapters of Pnin. The contrast is even more forceful in the Russian text where the wind is described as schastlivyi ("happy"). Thus. On a repeated reading. At the beginning the narrative seems to be omniscient. in both the story and the novel.'s funeral is described as "joyous" (R:104) which sharply contrasts with the contrite mood of the scene." who says. perhaps.464 LEONA TOKER of the youthful romance. 5. this case of pathetic 10. it may be just another figment of the "dreadful inventor's" imagination.1? Indeed. the presence of the first-person narrators in the pseudo-omniscient passages is felt even more strongly. and to have visited The Pines. in "Recruiting.

yet the betrayal of linguistic verisimilitude is obviously intentional. where the shabby old man is destined to appear "for a moment in the far end of a certain chapter. The narrator's earlier observation on "the mark of death" already on Vasiliy Ivanovich (R:105) applies not only to the man's physical condition but also to his fate as a short lived Nabokovian "galley-slave" (Nabokov 1973b:95). turns back into a stranger." see Nabokov 1975:230) projection of his own sudden influx of happiness upon the imagined scene. and the paraleptic episodes that complement them. but the book in which V. however. to paraphrase "The Vane Sisters. "Nabor. No Russian could possibly make such a mispronunciation (the Russian word for "soda" sounds very much like the English one). Both the novel and the short story end by cancelling their protagonists and their narrators. will live on as a character of V. The protagonist of "Recruiting" is cancelled as soon as the narrator admits that he has merely imagined an identity for a total stranger who is." into the book about him. dissolving. like the title character of Nabokov's "Vasiliy Shishkov." means not only "recruiting" but also "typesetting.I. his fictional identity dies. the narrator infuses the subsequent dialogue between Pnin and Joan Clements with elements of parody that he seems to have borrowed from the ignorant Jack Cockerell. at the turning of a certain sentence" (R:110). 6. . or the seemingly documentable data. however. as V. Nabokov's pre-war pen-name. Pnin denies even the supposedly reliable first-hand information (see also Grams 1974: The narrator's cognitive unreliability then appears to 193-195).SELF-CONSCIOUS PARALEPSIS IN NABOKOV 465 fallacy can be explained only as the narrator's "inadvertent" (a flower that looks like a flaw. The protagonist of Pnin also dissolves when the narrative reminds us of his fictionality. he ("inadvertently"?) makes Pnin say "viscous and sawdust" instead of "whisky and soda" (P:59). since it sharply contrasts with the virtuoso handling of the bilingual situation in other parts of the novel. is not the unfinished novel by the narrator. In Pnin the narrator indirectly signals his presence by an interesting linguistic inconsistency." And indeed. "Which arrow flies for ever? The arrow that has hit its mark" (Nabokov 1973a:8). Among other things. not even a Russian.I. like one of Gogol's homunculi (see Nabokov 1944:76-84). 11. perhaps. especially since the Russian title of the story. The narrator is clowning in order to distance himself from the character's pain and escape the grip of "participative emotion" (Nabokov 1980:95). Reluctant to render the full extent of Pnin's misery after Liza's brief visit to Waindellville. In Chapter 7. Sirin's11 completed story. The information that the narrator presents to us about Pnin falls into two parts: the eyewitness reports. This book.

of the narrator. In Pnin the reader is reminded of the fictionality of the narrator when denied unambiguous clues to his identity. does not surpass the story in the subtle obliqueness with which it cancels the narrator himself. including Pnin himself. and we must admit that he is but another fictional character who "spirits himself away at his farewell performance" (Nabokov 1960:7). a fascinating lecturer. Yet this description also suits another candidate for the role of the narrator of Pnin. however." this method of dismissing the character is much less straightforward than the direct admissions of the narrator of the short story. as it were. This hypothesis seems to be supported by the fact that the narrator is described as an Anglo-Russian novelist. it may indeed seem that Pnin is confusing the narrator with a "t. or of both. the Vladimir Vladimirovich whom Pnin suspects of using etymology as a pose (P:128). Vadim Vadimich. in Look at the Harlequins! (like the protagonist of The Gift." just as later. the protagonist-narrator of Nabokov's Look at the Harlequins!. The novel. or neither. it cannot be decided whether the narrator of Pnin is Vladimir Vladimirovich or Vadim Vadimich. warning the reader. wynn. It has been suggested (Carroll 1974:216n) that the narrator of Pnin is a fictional extension of Nabokov. is an invention . or of the novelist. just as he confuses Professors Wynn and Thomas at Waindell: For recalling certain duplications in the past . against such a mistake. To the very end. Whereas by the middle of the story Vasiliy Ivanovich dissolves and turns into "Vasiliy . therefore. Nabokov was definitively capable of remembering his future work).bothered Pnin told himself it would be useless to ask anybody's assistance in unraveling the T. he is forced to realize that this . Like most of the techniques Pnin shares with "Recruiting. Vadim Vadimich is mentioned in Pnin as one of the people whom Pnin had known for many years and whom he would always address by name and patronymic (P:105). or both.466 LEONA TOKER extend even to his "hard facts.disconcerting likenesses he alone had seen . namely. the author. who would be seen in Paris before the war and who migrated to America at about the same time as Pnin. a loose-end phrase with an uncharacteristically garbled syntax tells us that Pnin has been confusing some people's identities in the past. different characters keep confusing Vadim Vadimich with the author of Lolita. The disappearance of the narrator at the end of "Recruiting" is also half-concealed and half-revealed. is the truth about Pnin and what is invention. Moreover. Wynns (P: 150)." and as the reader wonders what.does not really matter because everything. after all. When the irritated Pnin imputes to the narrator stories that the latter seems to have never told (P:185).

It is interesting to note that the "representative's" taking over of the old man's place on the bench symbolically prefigures .perhaps by a "chance that mimics choice" (Nabokov 1975:230) .'s sister." by the end of the story the "I" turns into "my representative" (R:110). The two loops of the spiral are thus complete. and.I. however. the narrator of "The Nevsky Avenue" may be understood as occupying middle ground between the extradiegetic narrator of Vanity Fair. for once. Moreover.the ending of Pnin. thus returning to les ombres whence he has originally emerged.12 Such an interpretation does not clash with the above comparison of "Recruiting" with Pnin. Nabokov's method of writing with the help of erasor-capped pencils). and the intradiegetic narrator of Pnin. or whether he may be a still third person who notices (or imagines) one man taking the place of another on a garden bench. wonder whether the narrator of the story is indeed the man with the newspaper. one after the other." where the narrator seems to witness a meeting between two young men in the street and to compose symmetrical stories about them. for it is then that the narrator breaks the spell by coming out of the shadier recesses of the garden. a third-person character. It is this shade of a linden branch that the narrator has imagined gliding across the name on the grave of V. Thus. . the narrator of "Recruiting" does not seem to notice the connection between the "actual" linden shade in the street garden and the imagined one in the cemetery anticipates the narrative method of Pnin. wishing them both to share an unaccountable wave of happiness. occupy a certain place on the bench. In fact. As the stranger walks away. Both these transformations happen when the two characters. uses the one with the Russian newspaper as his "sifting agent" (Nabokov 1980:98). "erasing it" (R:103). the fact that. so that she remains nameless throughout the story (cf. Vasiliy Ivanovich is likewise "erased" soon after he seats himself on the bench under the linden shade.SELF-CONSCIOUS PARALEPSIS IN NABOKOV 467 Ivanovich. who almost successfully sustains the pretense of omniscience for the length of six out of the novel's seven chapters. The structural principle at work in the story would then be reminiscent of that in Gogol's "The Nevsky Avenue. stories that are presented with the authoritativeness of an omniscient narrator but may also be interpreted as paraleptic objectification of the intradiegetic narrator's meditations while walking along the Nevsky Avenue. "my representative" moves over to his place in the same shade. the ways of the narrator's imagination 12. where the shade of a "cool linden pattern" ripples across their foreheads (R:110). One may. where the narrator takes over Pnin's job at Waindell. since the imaginative processes through which the narrator of Pnin seems to be composing the protagonist's biography should in no way be identified with Nabokov's own imaginative procedures in writing the novel. who pretends to appear on the diegetic level.

He fosters the belief that this sensation is not unique. and me. that amidst all the pain "there is something in me and in life -" (P:58). including the narrator. as well as unexpected discoveries. It does not really matter whether the man on the bench has indeed let his love of life rise Phoenix-like from its ashes at the sight of a summer scene. The seed of such an effect is also present in "Recruiting. It is not even necessary to determine whether the joy of the narrator of "Recruiting" is the joy of literary inspiration. whereas in the novel the theme of the narrator's imagination is somewhat played down. The narrator of "recruiting" rediscovers the sudden "swell of happiness. the symbolic signs of consent in Nabokov's "A Nursery Tale"). yet there remains the quest. that the old man on the bench is sharing it despite all the vicissitudes of his existence. or from a female sparrow feeding her fledgeling on the gravel to the intermittent. perhaps because it has already been elaborated before. In the story the competition ends in a tie. together with Pnin. "from a cloud traveling in one direction to a truck traveling in the other. The genuineness of Pnin's inner life (from which outsiders. competes with that of the protagonist's coping with exile. in fact. transparent and precious" (R:105). be true for "you. whereas in Pnin the narrator is searching for the protagonist's "real life. admitting this procedure. jerky motion of a little wooden automobile pulled on a string by a child" (R:108) and also because the wave of happiness is attributed to Vasiliy Ivanovich two pages before the illusion of the narrative omniscience is erased." At the end both the goals and both the pursuers are cancelled. Moreover. are supposed to be . The joy of creation merges with the joy of perception . in Pnin this line of interest is not an end in itself but rather a means to an end: its purpose is to emphasize that the experience that the narrator attributes to Pnin may. in both the novel and the story. not because the stranger takes off his hat as though greeting the narrator's thought (cf. but because his eyes are roaming over all the right objects. And this belief seems justified." Here the narrator is looking for an episodic character to pass through his novel. What matters is that the reader recognizes this feeling and shares the narrator's wish to have the old stranger partake in it. that immediately transforms one's soul into something immense. On re-reading Pnin it also becomes apparent that the narrator keeps projecting his own thoughts and emotions upon the protagonist. or whether it is the kind of response to nature that accounts for Nabokov's eventual perfect integration into the American tradition as shaped by Emerson and Thoreau.and whose creation is it anyway? Nor does it matter whether the narrator is not merely projecting his own happiness upon the man on the bench beside him. however.468 LEONA TOKER are a theme which. and him over there" (Nabokov 1959:25). whether he has felt. as he seems to think. without.

Y.: New Directions). Fredson Bowers (New York: Harcourt. Gerard.P. an experience that punctures the fabric of the imagined world and provides us with a glimpse of something which is beyond that fabric and within ourselves. his attempts to cope with exile and the approaching old age. Grams. 1967. Conn. and both the narrators are distanced and dismissed. ed. Absalom." in: Carl R. ed.: New Directions).Y. Marina. Vladimir. 1971. Nicol. "Problems of Voice in Vladimir Nabokov's The Real Life of Sebastian Knight..: Doubleday and Company). Putnam's Sons). 1964 The Defense (New York: G. The Simile and Gogol's Dead Souls (The Hague: Mouton). 49-51. Genette. Jovanovich). 1981 Lectures on Russian Literature. his own resilience and undemonstrative love of life. Shlomith. 1944. 1960 Laughter in the Dark (Norfolk. 1956 Vesna v Fialte i drugie rasskazy [Spring in Fialta and Other Stories] (New York: The Tchekhov Publishing Ilouse). pp. Proffer. N. William. "At Pnin's Center. "Pnin: The Biographer as Meddler. And yet. ed. A Book of Things about Vladimir Nabokov (Ann Arbor: Ardis). N. 1972." Russian Literature Triquarterly 14. Conn. Blue Evenings in Berlin: Nabokov's Short Stories of the 1920s (New York: New York UP). Naumann. Fredson Bowers (New York: Harcourt. 1974. just as the old man on the bench may indeed share the sudden happiness of the narrator of "Recruiting. A Book of Things about VladimirNabokov (Ann Arbor: Ardis). 1958 Nabokov's Dozen: A Collection of Thirteen Stories (Garden City. "Ambiguity in Vladimir Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading" (Abstract of the paper presented at the conference on Ambiguity in Literature and Film at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Leona. both the protagonists. 1982." in: Carl R. William. 1983 "Pnin: A Story of Creative Imagination." in: Carl R. 1981). ed." Journal for Descriptive Poetics and Theory of Literature (PTL) 1. Rimmon." And as both the plots. Brace. 1957 Pnin (Garden City. January 30. REFERENCES Carroll. "Nabokov's Signs and Symbols. Figures III (Paris: Seuil). Proffer.P. 193-202. Brace. 197-208. Faulkner. 489-512. Toker. A Book of Things about VladimirNabokov (Ann Arbor: Ardis). The Vladimir Nabokov Research Newsletter 8. Proffer. 1978. 1975 Tyrants Destroyed and Other Stories (New York: McGraw-Hill). Carl R. 1976. Jovanovich). 1980 Lectures on Literature. Fred. for all we know. Nancy Ann. Putnam's Sons). 1974." Novel 4. 1936. Nikolai Gogol (Norfolk. 70-83. Nabokov. 203-217. Charles. Zeller. 1973b Strong Opinions (New York: McGraw-Hill)." to appear in the Nabokov issue of Delta. pp. pp. 1974. . and his passion for scholarly research. 1973a Russian Beauty and Other Stories (New York: McGraw-Hill). 1959 Invitation to a Beheading (New York: G. Pnin may indeed share all this experience with the narrator. Moody. Paul. his need for privacy. Proffer. 280-290.: Doubleday and Company). 1976. Absalom! (New York: Random House). it is this shared and recognizable experience that remains with the reader.SELF-CONSCIOUS PARALEPSIS IN NABOKOV 469 strictly banned) suggests that the narrator is bestowing on the protagonist something of himself: his own struggle to retain sanity in the face of obscure feelings of guilt. "The Spiral of Time in Ada. ed. "Pnin's History.