Izvestiya of Saratov University.

Philology. Journalism

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‘Stream of consciousness’ technique: Bergsonian interpretation of psychology in the prose by V. Nabokov

Berezhnov Denis A., Lomonosov Moscow State University

The following article off ers a theoretical interpretation of Nabokov’s aphorism on Joyce’s inner monologues. Nabokov supposed that thinking is extraverbal and cannot be fully embodied in a word. He assumed that James Joyce was wrong to materialize the stream of inner life in a rigid verbal form. For Nabokov, thinking as an uninterrupted continuum of psychological states, should be opposed to the ‘stream of consciousness’ technique and should be moved towards the lyrical synthetism. In order to embody the narrative mode, the author puts forward the method of synthetic technique, which dissolves the word material in the pervasive fl ow of meaning. The unifi ed meaning of the word undergoes deformation and gains a fl exible, fl uid-like form, pours/merges completely with other words, forming a versatile palette of meanings. Nabokov’s fundamental principles were structurally related to the intuitive philosophy of A. Bergson, who considered the ‘stream of consciousness’ as an indivisible melody, but an improperly considered artistic montage of mental states (in Joyce’s prose). Theorists of the ‘stream of consciousness’ (L. S. Vygotsky, A. Bergson) assumed that the ‘stream’ cannot be divided into moments, objects and forms, it is a syncretic formation, which cannot be subjected to the reverse decomposition into words. Applied to literature, this statement means literature cannot be retold. Then the author comes to the conclusion that Nabokov’s late prose is substantially synthetic, it implements the principle of duration at the deepest level of speech, which allows us to say that the Russian-speaking writer completely actualized the principles of Bergsonism when in the Gift, through the flowing speech, he portrayed consciousness as elusive and indefinable. Thus, the facts of Godunov-Cherdyntsev’s spiritual life cannot be grasped by intellectual means, they can only be contemplated intuitively.


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