In a recent blog post, The New Yorker recommended "Signs and Symbols" for weekend reading.
The story, which centers on an elderly couple’s attempt to visit their son in a sanitarium, is one of the best examples of Nabokov’s multilayered narrative style. In a letter to Katharine A. White, The New Yorker’s fiction editor at the time, Nabokov described this style as one in which “a second (main) story is woven into, or placed behind, the superficial semitransparent one."
You can spend more than a weekend exploring “Signs and Symbols” with our book, Anatomy of a Short Story: Nabokov's Puzzles, Codes, "Signs and Symbols". At over 400 pages, it contains the full text of "Signs and Symbols" as well as extensive analysis on the short story.
Anatomy of a Short Story contains:
• The full text of "Signs and Symbols," line numbered and referenced throughout the book
• Correspondence about the story, most of it never before published, between Nabokov and the editor of The New Yorker, where the story was first published
• 33 essays of literary criticism on the story, bringing together classic essays and new interpretations
• A round-table discussion in which a screenwriter, a theater scholar, a mathematician, a psychiatrist, and a literary scholar bring their perspectives to bear on "Signs and Symbols"