A sonnet on The Eye

“A mystery!” the book announces
Curious; is it really true?
You’ll suss it in no time, VN pronounces.
But of all people, dear Volodya, I can hardly trust you.

A tutor with his charges,
Nervous and awkward as we’d expect,
Until the mystery man (is he?) barges
In, our hero to eject.

A suicide, failed or not?
Who can tell but the man himself?
He sets down to rot
Not in the ground, but in the torture of self.

But VN was right, I passed one test;
The “mystery” was easy—now what of all the rest?

4 comments to A sonnet on The Eye

  • Yay, excited for your week of The Eye (my post on it should hopefully go up sometime soon).

    After the pyrotechnics of The Luzhin Defense, I found this an odd change of pace, but kind of refreshing.

  • Emily, what do you mean? What is The Eye but pyrotechnics, a short but concentrated trip to Showoffville?

    A change of pace, sure, because of the switch to first person.

  • I failed to mention the poem! It is worthy of the subject. I especially like the use of the introduction. I feel sorry for the original readers, the Russian ones, because they did not have those introductions. Talk about your unreliable narrators.

    I mean, I feel more sorry about the whole fleeing-from-the-Soviets-then-the-Nazis history. But additionally sorry about the introductions.

  • Haha, and I was just about to thank everyone for not mentioning the poem!

    AR, you make a good point about the pyrotechnics. But it’s definitely a change after The Luzhin Defense—first person but also much smaller.

    It’s hard to imagine reading a Nabokov novel going into it like it was Ariane, Jeune Fille Russe. I imagine fainting fits. I really don’t know how he was received at the time though.

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