By juxtaposing these novels and their authors, Píchová provides a unique perspective on each writer's vast appeal and success. She finds that the most successful exiles express a vision that transcends both national and temporal boundaries.
This text explores the themes of memory and exile in selected novels of Vladimir Nabokov and Milan Kundera. Both writers, the author argues, stress how personal and cultural memory serves as a creative means of overcoming the artist's and exile's loss of homeland. In their virtuoso display of literary talent, Nabokov and Kundera showcase the strategies that allow their protagonists to succeed as emigres: a creative fusing of past and present through the prism of the imagination. The text closely analyzes two novels by each author: the first written in exile (Nabokov's "Mary" and Kundera's "The Book of Laughing and Forgetting") and a later, pivotal novel in each writer's career (Nabokov's "The Gift" and Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"). In all four texts, these authors explore how the kaleidoscope of personal and cultural memory confronts a fragmented and untenable present, contrasting the lives of fictional emigres who fail to bridge the gap between past and present with those emigres whose rich artistic vision allows them to transcend the trials of homelessness.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Other Shores 1 (16)
Part One: Personal Memory
Variations on a Butterfly 17 (29)
Variations on Letters and Bowler Hats 46 (23)
Part Two: Cultural Memory
Writers Blind and Dangerous 69 (19)
Photographers Armed and Dangerous 88 (20)
Conclusion: The Art of the Novel 108(7)