Leving, Yuri. Decoding Delirium, or Who will help Chernyshevski? 2007

Bibliographic title
Decoding Delirium, or Who will help Chernyshevski?
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Online Journal
Periodical issue
v. 1
Publication year

The essay focuses on one seemingly insignificant line in the delirium scene shortly before A.Ia.Chernyshevski's death in The Gift: "Boria might help Ð but then he might not." In the English translation the sentence is even less clear: "David might help - but then he might not." The main questions posed by the author of the article are: who is this Boria who never reappears in the text; why was he transformed into David; and how exactly can he help the dying hero? In The Gift David is mentioned only once Ð as the Biblical author of the psalms translated by N.G. Chernushevski, while the actual scene of delirium represents Nabokov's reshuffling of major motifs and quotations from various Davidian psalms. "Bore" is a paronomastic equivalent of the word "Creator" in Hebrew (the unknown book in Aramaic is conveniently mentioned in the delirium episode as well) and serves as a link between the divine Boria and David. As Leving suggests, both Boria and David are different interpretations of the same authorial figure: the God-Creator of the textual reality (or Nabokov himself, who is the only one capable of relieving the hero from his mundane suffering).