Blackwell, Stephen H. Calendar Anomalies, Pushkin and Aesthetic Love in Nabokov. 2018

Bibliographic title
Calendar Anomalies, Pushkin and Aesthetic Love in Nabokov
Periodical or collection
The Slavonic and East European Review
Periodical issue
v. 96, no. 3
Publication year

This study begins from the controversial date-counting puzzle in Lolita, and links it to calendric phenomena in Pnin and Pale Fire. The three novels are joined by their hidden use of Pushkinian dates and ambiguous calendars; Nabokov appears to connect this ambiguity specifically with Pushkin and with his works’ embodiment of artistic openness. Pushkin's major role in these novels (latent in two of them) is then traced to Nabokov's early lectures on the poet, to his personal and intellectual relationship with Iulii Aikhenval'd, and to the role of love in Nabokov's aesthetics and ethics. This concept is shown to demonstrate significant parallels with Mikhail Bakhtin's presentation of ‘aesthetic love’ in his early philosophical works, which were unknown to Nabokov. The essay concludes that Pushkin stands, first and foremost, as an emblem of aesthetic love within Nabokov's works.