Vladimir Nabokov's The Tragedy of Mister Morn
On Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th June, Pushkin House presents a performance of Vladimir Nabokov’s play ‘The Tragedy of Mister Morn’. This is the second public performance of this play, the first being the single reading that took place in Berlin in 1924, shortly after the play’s completion. This will be in the form of a fully-rehearsed dramatic reading of the complete English language translation.
In this five-act Shakespearean tragedy written by Nabokov in the winter of 1923 to 1924 in free verse unfolds a story of a masked King, known to the public as Mister Morn, who, having suppressed a nihilist revolution in an imaginary kingdom, manages to restore it to a state of normality. He is secretly in love with Midia, the wife of Ganus, a revolutionary in exile, who upon his return discovers the affair and challenges the King. The main focus of the play is the turmoil that ensues in the King’s heart and in his kingdom after the return of Ganus.
The publication of the play was delayed for some eighty-four years until it came out as a book in 2008. At the same time, it is considered to be the pinnacle of Nabokov’s early literary career. A literary critic Brian Boyd, who wrote the first detailed analysis of the play, notes that the play “rediscovers anew the resources of Shakespearean tragedies and challenges the strict logic of Shakespearean fatalism… the kingdom which has been conquered, lost and regained; the King-incognito in disguise; the criss-crossed love affairs in the vivid background of a country in turmoil, in the depiction of which Nabokov combines a scintillation of fantasy and the deadly terror of reality”. An uninterrupted flow of rich metaphors, the play also has an exceptional expressive power to it.
Text by Daria PlatonovaShareThis