"A brilliant reading of Nabokov's stories."
Review of Contemporary Fiction
"Comparing the stories to those of Nabokov's 'older contemporaries'Chekhov and Ivan BuninShrayer places Nabokov squarely in the Russian literary tradition by painstakingly examining the stories' narrative components. In an approach that would no doubt have pleased Nabokov himself, Shrayer examines the stories through models of the reading process, incorporating Nabokov's own ideas of how one 'reads.' An important addition to Nabokov scholarship."
"Shrayer's thoughtful and well-documented analysis of the Nabokov-Bunin relationship illuminates an important chapter in the development of twentieth-century Russian literature. His study as a whole will reward all who are keen readers of Vladimir Nabokov and of the Russian short story itself."
"...an often brilliant synthesis of Nabokov's evolving literary practice, his implicit philosophical outlook, and his interactions with his cultural environment."
John Burt Foster, Jr., Professor of English and Cultural Studies, George Mason University
A century after his birth, Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) remains controversial, provocative, and "cool." Yet while he receives acclaim as a major American writer, few of his admirers in the West know the unique place he occupies in his native Russian tradition. In this comprehensive study of Nabokov's short fiction, Maxim D. Shrayer explores how Nabokov eclipsed the achievements of the great Russian masters of the short story, Anton Chekhov and Ivan Bunin, with whom he maintained a dialogic relationship even as he becamein exile from Russia and his native traditionan American writer.
Drawing on Nabokov's unpublished manuscripts and letters, Shrayer analyzes the paradigms of Nabokov's poetics and tests them in studies of representative stories. He investigates Nabokov's dialogue with Chekhov and his rivalry with Bunin. This in-depth analysis places Nabokov's short fiction in the main line of his writing career. Through references to all of Nabokov's stories, as well as to many novels and discursive writings, from the early émigré works of the 1920s to the late American works of the 1970s, Shrayer delineates the principal historical and cultural contexts that shaped Nabokov's development. Most importantly, he reveals the metaphysical, ethical, and aesthetic concerns that shaped one of the most significant bodies of modern fiction.