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More so than that of most other comparably illustrious writers, a number of Vladimir Nabokov’s works beckon near polarizing discrepancies in interpretation and actual author intent amidst literary circles. In a letter to the editor of The New Yorker, he concedes to constructing systems “wherein a second (main) story is woven into, or placed behind, the superficial semitransparent one” (Dolinin). In practice, such an architectural premise is complicated further by his inclination to dabble in the metaphysical and occasionally, in the metafictional. Nabokov’s inclusion of meticulous description and word choice coupled with his reliance on unreliable narrators—in “Signs and Symbols,” “The Vane Sisters,” and “Details of a Sunset”– permits him to explore the boundaries surrounding objective versus subjective realities, creating conscientiously woven narratives multi-layered and possibly cryptic in meaning.
Perhaps his most widely renowned and frequently debated short story, “Signs and Symbols” recounts the story of a boy diagnosed with “referential mania” (Nabokov, “Signs” 600) and hi…