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Mary, p. 83: “the percentage of happiness”

June 6, 2010

Fate and destiny are consistent Nabokov themes.  Here, fate is equated to the listings of a railroad timetable, as Alfyorov anticipates the arrival of his beloved on the 8:05 “fast train from the  north”:  “His mind, used as it was to figures, was no preoccupied with one single figure, made up of a unit and a decimal fraction:  eight point zero five.  This was the percentage of happiness which fate had temporarily allotted him.”  Momentarily, upon his return to his apartment, Podtyagin will refer to the loss of his newly-acquired passport as “fate.  There’s no escaping fate.  I’m doomed not to leave here.  It was preordained” (85).

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