7 AFTER-life Thoughts from Smurov of “The Eye” by Vladimir Nabokov

The Eye by Vladimir Nabokov

The Eye is Nabokov’s fourth novel first published in 1930 with the original title “Sogliadatai,” an ancient military term for spy or watcher. It is a rather obscure narrative of a pitiful émigré in Berlin named Smurov, who takes us on his posthumous adventures.

We see the world through the perspective (the “eye”) of a deceased person, who lived as desolately as when he was dead. But even the most dejected character provides thoughts and observations that are rather astute. Also, did he really die? Suppose that his suicide was a successful one, here are some of the points that Smurov made, during his short “life,” and mostly in his (perhaps imagined) afterlife:

  1. On happiness: “In order to live happily, a man must know now and then a few moments of perfect blankness.”
  2. On being absurdly free after death: “… the imagination of lawlessness has a limited range.”
  3. On what-ifs: “There is a titillating pleasure in looking back at the past and asking oneself, ‘What would have happened if…’ and substituting one chance occurrence for another, observing how, from a gray, barren, humdrum moment in one’s life, there grows forth a marvelous rosy event that in reality had failed to flower.”
  4. This surprising truth: “Books – another fascinating device on the part of the fantasy that directs life.”
  5. On his cut off, unwanted face from a photo: “Sometimes something is cut off in order to be framed separately.”
  6. On dreams vs realities: “It is frightening when real life suddenly turns out to be a dream, but how much more frightening when that which one had thought a dream – fluid and irresponsible – suddenly starts to congeal into reality!”
  7. On happiness once again: “I have realized that the only happiness in this world is to observe, to spy, to watch, to scrutinize oneself and others, to be nothing but a big, slightly vitreous, somewhat bloodshot, unblinking eye.”

The Eye by Vladimir Nabokov

Like it? Share this post so your friends can also rekindle (or get introduced to) one of the great works of Vladimir Nabokov! Thank you for reading. (: Here’s a virtual donut as a token of my appreciation:

Share a post, win a friend (me), and a virtual donut (friendship bracelets are so 90s).
Share a post, win a friend (me), and a virtual donut (friendship bracelets are so 1990s). *fistbump*


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