Adam Krug is a supreme individualist. The name “Adam” suggests the archetypal individuation that occurred in the Garden of Eden with the naming of the first humans. “Krug” is Russian for “circle,” suggesting a whole, a unity that circles back upon itself. Yet with Krug’s wife, Olga, dead, the Garden is under attack; evil has entered and must be confronted. This Krug refuses to do, believing that he cannot be hurt by anyone in government, feeling arrogantly secure in his international reputation. The nether side of Krug, his mirror image (“bend sinister” is a term from heraldry, denoting a diagonal band that divides a shield from upper left to lower right), is Gurk, “Krug” spelled backward. Gurk is an Ekwilist soldier who wants his share of the brutalizing fun. Yet Gurk and all the soldiers, like all the citizens of Padukgrad, are, Nabokov says, merely anagrams of everybody else. Thus, the leader Paduk is simply a slightly brighter Gurk and, at the same time, the inverse side of Krug, the brutalizing side, the selfish side. In their youth, Krug had tormented Paduk. “I was something of a bully,” Krug says, “and I used to trip him up and sit upon his face . . . every blessed day for about five school years.”
As a philosopher, Krug works with words, attempting to come to rational conclusions about the nature of the universe, but, although he has been successful in demolishing the theories of other philosophers, he has not posited...
(The entire section is 454 words.)