Summary The gift of Vladimir Nabokov

V. V. Nabokov
Gift
The hero of the novel is Fedor Konstantinovich Godunov-Cherdyntsev, a Russian emigre, the son of a famous entomologist, the scion of an aristocratic family. He is poor in Berlin in the second half of the 1920s, earning private lessons and publishing nostalgic twelve books about childhood in Russia in Russian newspapers. He feels a huge literary potential, he is bored with emigrant gatherings, his only idol among contemporaries is the poet Koncheev. With him, he leads a relentless inner dialogue “in the language of the imagination.” Godunov-Cherdyntsev, strong, healthy, young, full of happy premonitions, and his life is not overshadowed neither by poverty, nor by the uncertainty of the future. He constantly catches in the landscape, in a scrap of tram talk, in his dreams, the signs of future happiness, which for him consists of love and creative self-realization.
The novel begins with a draw: inviting Cherdyntsev to visit, emigrant Alexander Yakovlevich Chernyshevsky (Jewish-cross, he took this pseudonym out of respect for the idol of the intelligentsia, lives with his wife Alexandra Yakovlevna, his son recently shot himself after a strange, hysterical “menage, and trois”) promises to show him an enthusiastic review of the newly published Cherdyntsevo book. The review turns out to be an article from an old Berlin newspaper – an article entirely about another. The next meeting at Chernyshevsky, in which the editor of the emigre newspaper, the publicist Vasiliev promises everyone acquaintance with the new talent, turns into a farce: the attention of those gathered, including Conchaev, is offered a philosophical play by a Russian German named Bach, and this play turns out to be a set of heavy-handed curiosities. Dobryak Bach does not notice, that all present are choked with laughter. To top it off, Cherdyntsev again did not dare to speak with Koncheev, and their conversation, full of explanations in mutual respect and literary similarity, is a game of imagination. But in this first chapter, narrating about a chain of ridiculous failures and mistakes, is the plot of the future happiness of the hero. Here there is a cross-cutting theme of “Gift” – the theme of keys: moving to a new apartment, Cherdyntsev forgot the keys from her in a mackintosh, and left in a raincoat. In the same chapter, the novelist Romanov invites Cherdyntsev to another emigrant salon, to a certain Margarita Lvovna, who has Russian youth; flashes the name of Zina Merz (future beloved hero), but he does not respond to the first hint of fate, and meeting him with the ideal, to him one intended woman is postponed until the third chapter. To top it off, Cherdyntsev again did not dare to speak with Koncheev, and their conversation, full of explanations in mutual respect and literary similarity, is a game of imagination. But in this first chapter, narrating about a chain of ridiculous failures and mistakes, is the plot of the future happiness of the hero. Here there is a cross-cutting theme of “Gift” – the theme of keys: moving to a new apartment, Cherdyntsev forgot the keys from her in a mackintosh, and left in a raincoat. In the same chapter, the novelist Romanov invites Cherdyntsev to another emigrant salon, to a certain Margarita Lvovna, who has Russian youth; flashes the name of Zina Merz (future beloved hero), but he does not respond to the first hint of fate, and meeting him with the ideal, to him one intended woman is postponed until the third chapter. To top it off, Cherdyntsev again did not dare to speak with Koncheev, and their conversation, full of explanations in mutual respect and literary similarity, is a game of imagination. But in this first chapter, narrating about a chain of ridiculous failures and mistakes, is the plot of the future happiness of the hero. Here there is a cross-cutting theme of “Gift” – the theme of keys: moving to a new apartment, Cherdyntsev forgot the keys from her in a mackintosh, and left in a raincoat. In the same chapter, the novelist Romanov invites Cherdyntsev to another emigrant salon, to a certain Margarita Lvovna, who has Russian youth; flashes the name of Zina Merz (future beloved hero), but he does not respond to the first hint of fate, and meeting him with the ideal, to him one intended woman is postponed until the third chapter. full of explanations in mutual respect and literary similarity, is a game of imagination. But in this first chapter, narrating about a chain of ridiculous failures and mistakes, is the plot of the future happiness of the hero. Here there is a cross-cutting theme of “Gift” – the theme of keys: moving to a new apartment, Cherdyntsev forgot the keys from her in a mackintosh, and left in a raincoat. In the same chapter, the novelist Romanov invites Cherdyntsev to another emigrant salon, to a certain Margarita Lvovna, who has Russian youth; flashes the name of Zina Merz (future beloved hero), but he does not respond to the first hint of fate, and meeting him with the ideal, to him one intended woman is postponed until the third chapter. full of explanations in mutual respect and literary similarity, is a game of imagination. But in this first chapter, narrating about a chain of ridiculous failures and mistakes, is the plot of the future happiness of the hero. Here there is a cross-cutting theme of “Gift” – the theme of keys: moving to a new apartment, Cherdyntsev forgot the keys from her in a mackintosh, and left in a raincoat. In the same chapter, the novelist Romanov invites Cherdyntsev to another emigrant salon, to a certain Margarita Lvovna, who has Russian youth; flashes the name of Zina Merz (future beloved hero), but he does not respond to the first hint of fate, and meeting him with the ideal, to him one intended woman is postponed until the third chapter. – tie the future happiness of the hero. Here there is a cross-cutting theme of “Gift” – the theme of keys: moving to a new apartment, Cherdyntsev forgot the keys from her in a mackintosh, and left in a raincoat. In the same chapter, the novelist Romanov invites Cherdyntsev to another emigrant salon, to a certain Margarita Lvovna, who has Russian youth; flashes the name of Zina Merz (future beloved hero), but he does not respond to the first hint of fate, and meeting him with the ideal, to him one intended woman is postponed until the third chapter. – tie the future happiness of the hero. Here there is a cross-cutting theme of “Gift” – the theme of keys: moving to a new apartment, Cherdyntsev forgot the keys from her in a mackintosh, and left in a raincoat. In the same chapter, the novelist Romanov invites Cherdyntsev to another emigrant salon, to a certain Margarita Lvovna, who has Russian youth; flashes the name of Zina Merz (future beloved hero), but he does not respond to the first hint of fate, and meeting him with the ideal, to him one intended woman is postponed until the third chapter.
In the second, Cherdyntsev receives a mother in Berlin who came to him from Paris. His apartment owner, Frau Stoboi, found a spare room for her. Mother and son recall Cherdyntsev, the elder, the father of the hero who disappeared in his last expedition, somewhere in Central Asia. Mother still hopes that he is alive. A son who has been searching for a hero for his first serious book for a long time, is planning to write a biography of his father and...

remembers his childhood paradise – excursions with his father around the estate, catching butterflies, reading old magazines, solving etudes, sweet lessons – but he feels that out of these scattered notes and dreams, the book does not loom: he is too close, intimately recalls his father, and therefore is not able to objectify his image and write about him as a scientist and traveler. Moreover, in the story of his wanderings the son is too poetic and dreamy, and he wants scientific rigor. Material to him is both too close, and at times alien. And the external impetus to the termination of work is the move of Cherdyntsev to a new apartment. Frau Stoboy found herself a more reliable, well-meaning and well-meaning guest: the idleness of Cherdyntsev, his writing embarrassed her. Cherdyntsev opted for the apartment of Marianna Nikolaevna and Boris Ivanovich Schegolevy not because he liked this couple (an elderly philistine and an anti-Semite with a Moscow reprimand and Moscow’s same drinking jokes): he was attracted by a charming maiden dress, as if inadvertently thrown in one of the rooms. This time he guessed the call of fate, for nothing that the dress belonged not to Zina Merz, Marianna Nikolaevna’s daughter from her first marriage, but to her friend,
The acquaintance of Cherdyntsev with Zina, who has long been in love with him in absentia in verse, is the topic of the third chapter. They have many common acquaintances, but fate postponed the rapprochement of the heroes to a favorable moment. Zina is sarcastic, witty, well-read, thin, she is terribly annoyed by the Zhovial stepfather (her father is a Jew, Marianna Nikolaevna’s first husband was a musical, pensive, lonely person). She categorically resists Shchegolev and her mother to learn anything about her relationship with Cherdyntsev. She confines herself to walking with him around Berlin, where everything meets their happiness, resonates with him; followed by long tiring kisses, but nothing more. Unresolved passion, a feeling of approaching but slowing happiness, the joy of health and strength, the liberating talent – all this makes Cherdyntsev begin serious work, and this work by a coincidence coincides with the “Life of Chernyshevsky.” Chernyshevsky’s figure Cherdyntsev was carried away not by the consonance of his name with his own and not even in the exact opposite of Chernyshevsky’s biography of his own, but as a result of a long search for an answer to the question that plagued him: why in post-revolutionary Russia everything became so gray, boring and monotonous? He refers to the famous era of the 60s, precisely in search of the culprit, but he discovers in Chernyshevsky’s life the very breaking, a crack that prevented him from arranging his life harmoniously, clearly and harmoniously. This breakdown has affected the spiritual development of all subsequent generations, poisoned by the deceptive simplicity of cheap, flat pragmatism. Chernyshevsky’s figure Cherdyntsev was carried away not by the consonance of his name with his own and not even in the exact opposite of Chernyshevsky’s biography of his own, but as a result of a long search for an answer to the question that plagued him: why in post-revolutionary Russia everything became so gray, boring and monotonous? He refers to the famous era of the 60s, precisely in search of the culprit, but he discovers in Chernyshevsky’s life the very breaking, a crack that prevented him from arranging his life harmoniously, clearly and harmoniously. This breakdown has affected the spiritual development of all subsequent generations, poisoned by the deceptive simplicity of cheap, flat pragmatism. Chernyshevsky’s figure Cherdyntsev was carried away not by the consonance of his name with his own and not even in the exact opposite of Chernyshevsky’s biography of his own, but as a result of a long search for an answer to the question that plagued him: why in post-revolutionary Russia everything became so gray, boring and monotonous? He refers to the famous era of the 60s, precisely in search of the culprit, but he discovers in Chernyshevsky’s life the very breaking, a crack that prevented him from arranging his life harmoniously, clearly and harmoniously. This breakdown has affected the spiritual development of all subsequent generations, poisoned by the deceptive simplicity of cheap, flat pragmatism. boring and monotonous? He refers to the famous era of the 60s, precisely in search of the culprit, but he discovers in Chernyshevsky’s life the very breaking, a crack that prevented him from arranging his life harmoniously, clearly and harmoniously. This breakdown has affected the spiritual development of all subsequent generations, poisoned by the deceptive simplicity of cheap, flat pragmatism. boring and monotonous? He refers to the famous era of the 60s, precisely in search of the culprit, but he discovers in Chernyshevsky’s life the very breaking, a crack that prevented him from arranging his life harmoniously, clearly and harmoniously. This breakdown has affected the spiritual development of all subsequent generations, poisoned by the deceptive simplicity of cheap, flat pragmatism.
The life of Chernyshevsky, which both Cherdyntsev and Nabokov made themselves a lot of enemies and made a scandal in emigration (first the book was published without this chapter), is devoted to debunking precisely Russian materialism, “reasonable egoism,” attempts to live by reason and not by instinct, not by instinct artistic intuition. Mocking Chernyshevsky’s aesthetics, his idyllic utopias, his naive economic teachings, Cherdyntsev fervently sympathizes with him as a man when he describes his love for his wife, suffering in exile, heroic attempts to return to literature and social life after liberation… Chernyshevsky’s blood has that the most “a piece of pus”, about which he spoke in the dying delirium: inability to fit organically into the world, awkwardness, physical weakness, and most importantly – ignoring the external charm of the world, the desire to reduce everything to a racy, useful, primitive… This seemingly pragmatic, but in fact deeply speculative, abstract approach kept Chernyshevsky from living all the time, teasing him with the hope of the possibility of social reconstruction, while no public reconstruction can and should not occupy the artist, who searches in the course of fate, in the development of history, in his and others’ lives, above all, the highest aesthetic sense, the pattern of allusions and coincidences. This chapter is written with all the gleam of Nabokov’s irony and erudition. In the fifth chapter, all the dreams of Cherdyntsev come true: his book was published with the assistance of that very kind Bach, whose play he roared with laughter. It was praised by the very Koncheev, the friendship with which our hero dreamed. Finally, a possible affinity with Zina: her mother and her stepfather leave Berlin (my stepfather got a job), and Godunov-Cherdyntsev and Zina Merz remain together. Full of jubilant happiness, this chapter is overshadowed only by the story of the death of Alexander Yakovlevich Chernyshevsky, who died, not believing in a future life. “There is nothing,” he says before his death, listening to the splash of water behind the curtained windows. “It’s as clear as something that’s raining.” And on the street at this time the sun shines, and the neighbor Chernyshevsky watered flowers on the balcony.
The theme of the keys pops up in the fifth chapter: Cherdyntsev left his keys to the apartment in the room, Zina’s keys were taken away by Marianna Nikolaevna, and the lovers are on the street after almost wedding dinner. However, most likely in the Grunewald forest they will not be worse. Yes, and Cherdyntsev’s love for Zina – a love that has come close to its happy solution, but the solution is hidden from us – does not need keys and roofing.


Summary The gift of Vladimir Nabokov