Wilson, Sara. Nabokov and Khodasevich: The Lyre Lightens. 2013

Bibliographic title
Nabokov and Khodasevich: The Lyre Lightens
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Online Journal
Periodical issue
v. 7
Publication year

The article argues that although the friendship between Khodasevich and Nabokov during the interwar years is well documented, its impact on their work has not been fully analyzed. In his foreword to The Gift, Nabokov crowns Khodasevich “the greatest Russian poet that the twentieth century has yet produced.” While critics, including David Bethea and Yuri Leving, acknowledge Fyodor as Nabokov’s alter ego and Khodasevich as a basic model for the character Koncheyev, none have explored the full extent of Khodasevich’s impact on The Gift as a whole. Nabokov’s novel directly references Khodasevich’s book of poetry The Heavy Lyre, as well as major themes from the collection, particularly the tragic fate of the Orphic hero, to whom a heavy lyre is given. Throughout The Gift, Nabokov argues against Khodasevich’s depiction of Orpheus and champions a more hopeful hero with a literary gift that is neither heavy nor tragic.