The Return of Chorb
by Vladimir Nabokov
The Return of Chorb Mortality Quotes
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How was he to explain that he wished to possess his grief all by himself, without tainting it by any foreign substance and without sharing it with any other soul? Her death appeared to him as a most rare, almost unheard-of occurrence; nothing, it seemed to him, could be purer than such a death… (6).
The word "pure" is an important one in "The Return of Chorb." Chorb’s love for his wife had a certain chasteness to it, as reflected by their sans-sex wedding night. Even the way he describes his wife – as "light" and "laughing" – reflects his delicate impression of her.
…caused by the impact of an electric stream, the same stream which, when poured into glass receptacles, yields the purest and brightest light (6).
This line sets us up for all the light imagery in "The Return of Chorb." After this, every gleam or luster evokes the memory of Chorb’s wife’s death – and, in turn, her ghost.
He thought that if he managed to gather all the little things they noticed together – if he re-created thus the near past – her image would grow immortal and replace her forever (9).
This is where the Orpheus connection comes in – while Chorb is attempting something different than Orpheus, they are both in a way trying to overcome death.