Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mary (plot and general comments)

In class we talked about how nothing actually happens in Mary. I think that a plot, more than just existing, is quite well developed in this book. In fact, there are two distinct plots; there are the events that happen in Berlin and the reminisces of what took place in Russia years ago. I found that part of what made this book so readable and compelling were the dual plot lines.

The part of the story that takes place in Berlin is interesting because it follows the struggle of someone superfluous as they try to find a goal or direction. While the reader doesn't perceive very much development of Ganin's character over the course of the book, Ganin goes from stagnating to moving forward in his life. This is an interesting development on the idea of the superfluous man theme that has plagued us since the beginning of this course. Is someone superfluous if their life has a direction? Ganin provides little or nothing to society, yet at the end of the book he has a focus and direction.

The plot that grabbed me the most was the one that focused on the idea of first love. The development of Ganin's love with Mary was a good story for me. There was exposition, conflict, rising action, a climax, and no resolution until the very last page of the book. I really enjoyed that I had no idea how the book would end even though I was on the second to last page. By having two separate plots, Nabokov broadens the amount of people that could really connect to the book. The parts where Ganin is reminiscing about his life made me nostalgic. I thought about stuff that I haven't thought about in a long time when I was reading that part of the story.

Anyway, I thought it was a really good book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Also, sorry this is two days late. I sort of forgot.


  1. I also enjoyed reading Mary, though I would say that I wasn't quite as satisfied with the love story as you seem to be. I felt that Ganin was just really immature in his interactions with people except for the older man with the heart problems. He bores easily, is pretty fickle and not particularly attune to the feelings or perspective of others. While this would make sense in a lot of ways as a story of first love, the troubling thing is that he is now older and yet still behaves similarly. This to me is how he is a superfluous man... he has direction perhaps at the end, but it is still only with regards to himself, not in relation to anyone else or society.

    1. I like your definition of superfluous man. It is not enough just to have direction, one must also have a sense of something larger than oneself. I agree that Ganin has a tendency to be fickle in his interactions with some characters. Perhaps this I like him so much because I can relate to that. He is a perfect example of someone I don't want to be. Except the having direction (at the end) part.