Mary, p. 68: “In one furious leap . . .”

November 29, 2009

The description of Ganin as attacks the watchman’s son who has been voyueristically observing through a window of the house Ganin’s and Mary’s fondling suggests all those places in Nabokov where breaking through a pane of glass dissolves the separation between illusion and reality, as well as the intrusion of the snake into the lovers’ artificial Eden:  “Ganin saw that the shutter of one of the windows giving onto the porch was open, and that a human face, its white nose flattened, was ever pressed against the inside of the windowpane.  It moved and slithered away, but both of them had time to recognize the carroty hair and gaping mouth of the watchman’s son, a foulmouthed lecher of about twenty who was always crossing their path in the avenues of the park.  In one furious leap Ganin hurled himself at the window, shattered the glass with his back and crashed into the icy dark.  With this momentum his head butted a powerful chest, which gasped at the blow.  Next moment they were grappling and rolling across the echoing parquet, bumping into pieces of dead furniture draped in dust covers.”

I see here a hint of things to come in the presence of Quilty, the narrator/protagonist’s dark, lecherous alter ego, and the wrestling match that indicates the confrontation between the romantic idea and worldly lust that afflicts many of Nabokov’s figures−a confrontation that often takes place amidst “echoes,” on the chessboard of a parquet floor.


One comment

  1. In real life, the young Nabokov and his “Tamara” were also voyeured. instead of attacking physically, Nabokov complained to his parents and they stopped the interloper.

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