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The Return of Chorb

The Return of Chorb

by Vladimir Nabokov

Mortality Theme

"The Return of Chorb" explores the aftermath of death and how we deal with the loss of a loved one. What are the consequences of death, and is there some way to overcome it? Spinning off from the myth of Orpheus, "Chorb" follows the story of a man trying to "re-create" the image of his dead wife. A distinction is drawn between the spectral, horrifying appearance of the dead woman and the peaceful, immortal memory of her. The story’s main character tries to escape the former by taking refuge in the latter, but much like Orpheus’s trip to the underworld, this is hardly a walk in the park.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Is Chorb, like Orpheus, trying to "cheat" death? Does he succeed?
  2. How is Chorb’s love for his wife altered by her death? How does his fear of her ghost affect the way he remembers her?
  3. Think about the way Chorb’s wife is killed. How is this particular occurrence integral to "Chorb"?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The absence of sex in "The Return of Chorb" works with the theme of death to create a barren and doomed atmosphere.

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