By Yuri Leving
In view that its first ebook in 1948, one in every of Vladimir Nabokov’s shortest brief tales, “Signs and Symbols,” has generated possibly extra interpretations and significant appraisal than the other that he wrote. it's been known as “one of the best brief tales ever written” and “a triumph of economic climate and strength, minute realism and shimmering mystery” (Brian Boyd, Vladimir Nabokov: the yank Years).
Part and parcel of a classical brief fiction style, Nabokov’s “Signs and Symbols”—one of his final experiments in brief prose—strikes with lexical density and incorporates a dazzling structural point: what the author had defined in his letter to Katharine White, the editor of the recent Yorker, as having an “inside,” “inner scheme,” and “a procedure of mute responses”.
The objective of the current selection of essays is to procedure the narrative riddles of “Signs and Symbols”— reproduced the following in complete — an open-ended tale which invitations makes an attempt to damage its mysterious code. In doing so, the participants remove darkness from the ways that we interpret fiction, and the quick tale specifically.
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Additional info for Anatomy of a Short Story: Nabokov's Puzzles, Codes, "Signs and Symbols"
There they waited again; and instead of their boy shuffling into the room as he usually did (his poor face blotched with acne, ill-shaven, sullen, and confused), a nurse they knew, and did not care for, appeared at last and brightly explained that he had again attempted to take his life. He was all right, she said, but a visit might disturb him. The place was so miserably understaffed, and things got mislaid or mixed up so easily, that they decided not to leave their present in the office but to bring it to him next time they came.
For this short story there is the overall structure and then the structure at sentence level. Nabokov’s overall structure is almost conventional, but not quite. The scene is set. A disturbing element is introduced (the son’s illness). The parents go away to try to resolve the situation. A solution is proposed. Then there is an unexpected element—the phone calls. But then, instead of resolving the situation, Nabokov leaves the reader hanging. There is one obvious ending, but isn’t Nabokov smarter than that?
Nordau’s goal was to stigmatize these cultural figures as perverted and sick. The key assertion was that not only the art, but also the artist, was degenerate, depicted as a dangerous spokesmen for the world of the debauched fin de siècle, nourishing a neurotic audience with artistic delusions. Nordau and his pseudo-scientific methods were used extensively by Russian critics to stigmatize their own literary competitors until as late as the 1930s. As such, I am resistant to the notion that “Signs and Symbols” can spread “referential mania” to its readers, thereby perpetuating Nordau’s dubious assertions.