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The Return of Chorb

The Return of Chorb


by Vladimir Nabokov

Analysis: Setting

Where It All Goes Down

May in Germany, flashbacks to the south of France. Nighttime in a seedy hotel.

Nabokov creates a perfectly eerie setting for this tale of spectral suspense. It’s dark and shadowy, but the odd appearances of bright lights (from streetlamps to swinging bulbs to "gleaming" pearl shirt studs) remind us that the supernatural is ever-present here. Chorb’s flashbacks take us back to autumn of the previous year, when the "black bark" of the trees was "velveted with green rot." From this time of decay we move into the present – May, springtime. This is an odd reversal. We’ve gone from dying foliage to rebirth, yet in the process Chorb’s wife has died. We have to ask just what is being reborn with the spring, and it’s likely that the answer has something to do with Chorb’s "return," which we talk about more in What’s Up With the Title. Why don’t you check that out and then get back to us?

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