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The Return of Chorb

The Return of Chorb

by Vladimir Nabokov

Analysis: What’s Up With the Title?

Initially, this title may be off-putting. First of all, what is Chorb returning from? And second of all, what does a journey have to do with anything? Then we might be tempted to chalk this up to Chorb’s physical journey. He went on a honeymoon to France, and now he’s back in Germany. Oh, OK. We’re done.

Mmm…not exactly. Sure, the title may refer in part to Chorb’s geographical meanderings, but it’s certainly not limited to them. Think about the Orpheus myth (which we discuss in Symbols, Imagery, and Allegory). Orpheus takes a journey to the Underworld to retrieve his wife. He then returns, albeit having failed. If Chorb makes a similar ‘journey to the underworld,’ he too returns, probably at the moment when he wakes up and flips out screaming in the middle of the night. As soon as he realizes that the woman in the bed next to him is a prostitute, the supernatural veil is destroyed and his journey is over; he has returned to the real world of the living.

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