This paper is concerned with travel literature. In the twentieth century it witnessed the ‘quiet death’ as travel became associated with emigration, displacement, and personal experience, often shaped by the tumultuous, geopolitical destabilization so prominent in the early twentieth century. It was no longer an exercise in discovery performed solely by the privileged. Travel is examined as it relates to imagination and authenticity in Nabokov’s early Russian novel Glory. Published in 1932, the text follows the journey of Martin, a young Russian émigré whose life takes him through sojourns in numerous countries. The protagonist becomes captivated by his own romantic reimagining of his travels in order to link himself with the Russia of his past. He perceives himself as the detached visitor, observing infidels from a position of narrative authority. In his imagination, Martin yearns to enact a heroic deed that could extract him from his mundane, placid existence. By combining a highly romanticized notion of travel with the nostalgia of his lost childhood, Martin molds the world around him through his travels in an effort to reclaim what the modern era removed from travel literature — the act of true discovery.
Mapping the Hero’s Dreams: Imagination and Travel in Nabokov’s Glory
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Nabokov Online Journal