Eklund, Erik. Rereading the World: A Theological Appraisal of Vladimir Nabokov’s Metaliterary Eschatology. Religion & Literature. Forthcoming.

Bibliographic title
Rereading the World: A Theological Appraisal of Vladimir Nabokov’s Metaliterary Eschatology
Periodical or collection
Religion & Literature
Publication year

This essay examines the theological affordances of Vladimir Nabokov’s metaliterary eschatology in an attempt to rehabilitate Gennady Barabtarlo’s project of securing the foundations for reading Nabokov “also as a mystic.” The correspondence or analogy Nabokov seeks to express between metafiction and metaphysics, as well as the makeshift phenomenology of rereading which his art naturally encourages, make possible the rehabilitation of the theological or religious philosophical form of the sustained literary performance called “Nabokov.” Centering Nabokov’s theological form around his conviction that the blessed dead will gain a God’s-eye perspective where history will be available for endless reinvestigation and appreciation, this essay invites readers to engage key selections of Nabokov (the majority taken from Pale FireThe Real Life of Sebastian Knight, and “The Vane Sisters”) through the scriptural hermeneutics of Origen of Alexandria and the doctrine of epektasis espoused by Origen’s fourth-century proponent Gregory of Nyssa. By modeling a theological reading of Nabokov, Origen and Gregory clarify the religious philosophical depths of Nabokov’s art and reveal that the theological affordances of his art are not new, but implicit to his metapoetic thinking and performance. To read Nabokov “also as a mystic,” then, disavows reducing the mystical, religious, or otherwise theological ideas in his work to the (meta-)literary devices he deploys to engage them, but instead acknowledges that Nabokov imbues his art with a rich theological sense which spirals endlessly toward the eschatological in love, in discovery, in curiosity.