Since the late 1960s the notion of literary influence has been a vexed one. According to Julia Kristeva’s poststructuralist theory of intertextuality, the text is no longer legitimately to be understood as the discrete product of a stable, originating consciousness.1 The text is instead a mosaic, a boundless composite of all other texts, including the larger social “text,” with a meaning that is neither intrinsic nor unified but purely relational. If a text is authorless and uncontrollable, any study of influence would appear to be problematical. Yet, as Clayton and Rothstein have observed, actual critical practice has often subverted or departed from the radical doctrine outlined above.2 The boundaries between traditional influence studies and intertextuality have been found to be somewhat elastic. Influence studies have granted agency to an author but have also often acknowledged the significance of impersonal historical factors. Intertextuality itself sometimes denotes “a stylish way of talking about allusion and influence” and therefore need not preclude the notion of intentionality.3 The present study posits Nabokov as a center of consciousness who, like other writers, was free enough to act upon his world. This is not to deny that Nabokov’s life and work were shaped by the great, impersonal buffetings and dislocations of history.
KeywordsMaterial Reality Material World Symbolist Mode Influence Study Creative Imagination
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