The Real Life of Sebastian Knight
“Sebastian Knight was born on December 31, 1899 in the former capital of my fatherland” – this is the first phrase of the book. Her younger brother Knight, pronounced in the novel by the letter “V.”, pronounces it. Sebastian Knight, the famous writer, a native of Russia, who wrote in English, died in January 1936 in a hospital in the Paris suburb of Saint-Damier. V. restores the true life of his brother, collecting it in pieces – so in the eyes of the reader creates this intricate and complex (at first glance) novel.
In the case of V. Sebastian, he is a common father, an officer of the Russian guard. The first marriage he had been married to the voracious, restless Englishwoman Virginia Knight.
Virginia died of a heart attack in 1909. Four years later, his father, ridiculous to say, started a duel because of her, Sebastian was heavily involved and in his work resorted to parody, “as a sort of flip chart allowing to fly into the higher spheres of serious emotions “.
In Goodman’s office, V. accidentally gets acquainted with Helen Pratt: she is friends with Sebastian’s lover Clare Bishop. The story of this love is built up from the pictures that V. imagined after comparing the stories of Pratt with the stories of another friend of Sebastian (the poet PJ Sheldon). In addition, V. accidentally saw on a London street married and pregnant Claire, she is destined to die from bleeding. It turns out that their relationship lasted about six years (1924 – 1930). During this time, Sebastian wrote two first novels (“Prismatic Facet”  and “Success,” whose fate matched his name) and three stories (they will be published in the book
In Sebastian’s autobiographical book, The Lost Things he started at that time, there is a letter that can be read as an appeal to Claire: “I always think that there is some secret defect in love… I have not stopped loving you, but because I can not, as before, kiss your pretty gloomy face, we need to part… I will never forget you and I can not replace anyone… with you I was happy, now I’m unhappy with another.. . “Throughout almost the entire second half of the novel, V. is busy searching for this other woman – he seems to have seen ee talking to her, he learns about Sebastian something important. Who is she? It is known that in London Sebastian received letters written in Russian, from a woman whom he met at Blauberg. But, fulfilling the posthumous will of his brother, V. burned all his papers.
V.’s trip to Blauberg does not give anything, but on the way back he meets a strange little man (it seems he came straight out of Sebastian’s story “The Wrong Side of the Moon”, where he helped unlucky travelers), the Man gets a list of the guests of the Beaumont hotel in Blauberg for V. for June 1929, and he marks four women’s names – each of them could belong to his beloved brother. V. sent to the addresses.
Frau Helen Gerstein, an elegant and delicate Jewess who lives in Berlin, has never heard of Sebastian Nate. But in her house, V. meets Sebastian’s classmate (“how can I put it… your brother was not very much appreciated at school…”); a classmate turns out to be the elder brother of Sebastian’s first love – Natasha Rozanova.
In the house of Madame de Rechnoy in Paris, V. finds Pal Palich Rechny and his cousin Chernoy (an amazing man who knows how to play the violin on his head, sign upside down, etc.). It turns out that Nina Rechnaya is the first wife of Pal Palycha, with whom he has long been separated. Apparently, this person is eccentric, eccentric and inclined to adventures. Doubt that a woman of this type could attract Sebastian, V. goes to the fashionable quarter of Paris – there lives another “suspect”, Ellen von Graun. He is met by Madame Lecerf (“a small, fragile, pale-faced lady with smooth dark hair”), who called herself von Graun. She promises to find out everything that is possible. (To clean up his conscience, V. also visits a certain Lydia Bohemia, who, alas, turned out to be elderly, fat and vulgar.)
The next day, Madame Lecerf (next to her on the sofa, the old black bulldog was bent) tells W. how her friend fascinated Sebastian: firstly, she liked it, and besides, it seemed amusing to make such an intellectual to make love to her. When he finally realized that he could not live without her, she realized that she could no longer endure his conversations (“about the shape of the ashtray” or “about the color of time”, for example), and threw it. Hearing all this, V. even more wants to meet with von Graun, and Madame Leserf invites him to the weekend to his village, promising that the mysterious lady will certainly come there.
In a huge, old, neglected house, there are some people who are intimately connected with each other (just like Prizmatical facets, where Sebastian parodyed the detective). Reflecting on the mysterious stranger, V. suddenly feels an attraction to Madame Leserf. As if in response, she reports how she once kissed a man just because he knew how to sign upside down… V. recalls Cousin Black and understands everything! In order to test his guess, he quietly in Russian pronounces behind the back of Madame Leserf: “And she has a spider on her neck” – and the imaginary Frenchwoman, and in fact – Nina Rechnaya, immediately grabs her hand by the neck. Without any explanations, V. leaves. In the last book of Sebastian “The Obscure Asphodel”  the characters are on the scene and disappear, and the main character dies throughout the narrative. This topic now converges with the theme of the book “The Real Life of Sebastian Knight,” which almost before our eyes is almost finished by V. (it is no accident that from all his brother’s books this is perhaps his favorite). But he recalls how, in mid-January 1936, he received from his brother an alarming letter written, strangely enough, in Russian (Sebastian preferred to write letters in English, but he began this letter as a letter to Nina). At night, V. saw an extremely unpleasant dream – Sebastian calls him “the last, persistent call,” but I can not make out the words. In the evening of the next day, a telegram came: “The state of Sebastian is hopeless…” With large scavenging V. reached Saint-Damien. He sits in the ward of his sleeping brother, listens to his breathing and realizes that Sebastian finds out more than ever in those moments. However, an error occurred: B. got into the wrong room and spent the night at the bed of a stranger. And Sebastian died the day before his arrival.
But “any soul can become yours if you catch it and follow it.” Mysterious words at the end of the novel: “I am Sebastian Knight or Sebastian Knight – it’s me, or maybe we are both – someone else whom neither of us know” – can be interpreted as the fact that both brothers – these are different incarnations of the authentic author of “The Real Life of Sebastian Knight,” that is, Vladimir Nabokov. Or maybe it’s better to leave them unsolved.