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Article

An Intertextual Spiderweb in Nabokov's "Cloud, Castle, Lake"

Nabokov Studies. 2006. Vol. 10. P. 27-51.

It is well known that Nabokov's short story "Cloud, Castle, Lake" abounds in allusions to Tiutchev's lyrics, functioning as its metatextual "re-reading." The article takes its departure from calling attention to an unexplored Tiutchevian allusion in the story—the image of "the fine hair of a spiderweb," the pivotal image of Tiutchev's famous nature lyric "There is in early autumn …" ("Est' v oseni pervonachal'noi …"; 1857). I propose to examine the recurrence of this Tiutchevian topos in Nabokov's Russian writings, focusing on its function as a nostalgic sign of a Russian "paradise lost." I will also take into account Nabokov's possible polemic references, in "Cloud, Castle, Lake," to two other Russian readers of the same Tiutchev poem, Leo Tolstoy and Osip Mandelstam.