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Mary, p. 63: the story of a love affair

November 29, 2009

Chapter Nine portrays the roller coaster, sexually frustrated love affair of Ganin and Mary in which illusions and inadequacies combine with “fate” (in this case, the Russian revolution) to produce the sense of loss and nostalgia that seems to haunt many of the romantic relationships Nabokov describes. The chapter begins in the present of the Berlin boarding house where the dancer, Kolin, is making tea for his partner, Gornotsvetov; Nabokov describes this gay couple on p. 68 as “being as happy as a pair of ringdoves” (a kind of pigeon):   their domesticity is clearly being contrasted to Ganin’s memories of his failed affair with Mary that follow shortly.

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