The Return of Chorb
by Vladimir Nabokov
The Return of Chorb Summary
How It All Goes Down
"The Return of Chorb" tells the story of Chorb, a young man who has just returned to Germany from his honeymoon in the south of France. Sadly, his wife died on the trip after touching a live electrical wire, which killed her instantly. Chorb, stricken with grief, returns exactly the way he and his wife had traveled, trying to recapture all the moments he experienced with her on the way. He’s on a mission to "re-create the past," to craft a new, immortal image of his wife to replace the scary-ghost vision he has now.
But there’s a slight problem: his in-laws. Chorb has returned to the town of his wedding and his wedding night – his wife’s home town. Her parents, the Kellers, find out that Chorb is back and are under the impression that their daughter is ill. They hurry to find Chorb, who has shacked up for the night in a hotel of ill repute (in which he and his wife spent their wedding night).
Chorb, in his attempt to "re-create the past" and so forth, has hired a prostitute to play the part of his wife. He doesn’t have sex with her, just as he never had sex with his own wife on their wedding night. He just falls asleep next to her in bed. Shortly after he wakes up, thinks he sees the ghost of his dead wife lying next to him, and jumps up screaming. This freaks out the prostitute, who quickly dresses. Meanwhile there’s a knocking on the hotel room door; the Kellers have arrived, thanks to the help of the bellman lackey. The prostitute opens the door to a very irritated and now very shocked set of in-laws. She exits into the hallway while the Kellers go into the room with Chorb and close the door. Silence follows. And that’s it.