Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001164, Fri, 28 Jun 1996 11:24:43 -0700

unreliable narrators

1. The vigorous set of responses re "unreliable narrators" (henceforth
"UR") suggests a couple of things. One is that even such literary
supersophisticates as NABOKV-L subscribers understand the term in very
different ways. For those who are especially interested in the UR device
in Nabokov (where it is certainly central) I suggest Pekka Tammi's
_Problems of Nabokov's Poetics: A Narratological Analysis_ (Helsinki,
1985) which is by far the best examination of the problem.

2. The flurry of interest in the topic prompted me to a vagrant thought.
How might the UR technique be handled on the stage? Offhand, it strikes
me as being especially hard to handle. I know very little about the theory
of drama and there are doubtless treatises on the UR in drama. My memory
of VN's play "The Waltz Invention" is hazy but I wonder if this might be a
place to start examining the question.

D. Barton Johnson
Department of Germanic, Slavic and Semitic Studies
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University of California at Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
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