The article explores an enigmatic character, Vsevolod Romanov, in Nabokov’s last Russian novel. The artist presents a peculiar case for two reasons: the descriptions of his paintings look tantalizingly palpable, but no plausible prototypes for these have been identified by scholarship so far. What is more, the compositional principles of Romanov’s paintings are strikingly reminiscent of Nabokov’s own devices, as articulated in the famous last sentence of Speak, Memory which refers to a puzzle (“Find what the sailor has hidden,” 310). The descriptions of Romanov’s personality and artistic development may contain a few remote references to the career of Nabokov’s fellow émigré, Pavel Tchelitchew. Romanov’s paintings, as described in the novel, also evoke the works of Henri Rousseau and Rene Magritte.
"Hide and Seek" (On Possible Prototypes for the Artist Romanov in Nabokov’s The Gift)
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Nabokov Online Journal