The Return of Chorb Study Guide

The Return of Chorb by Vladimir Nabokov

"The Return of Chorb" is a short story by Vladimir Nabokov, written in 1925 in a complex non-linear style. The story follows Chorb, a Russian emigre whom his father-in-law mistrusts. During his honeymoon in Nice, Chorb's wife is electrocuted and dies. Chorb returns to Germany to visit the places he and his wife had spent together and to inform her parents of the incident. Staying in a hotel room where he and his wife spent their wedding night, Chorb hires a prostitute, in whom he recognizes his wife.

The Return of Chorb Book Summary

The Kellers are a bourgeois couple living in a smaller German town whose daughter has married the Russian emigre writer Chorb. The distrust between Chorb and his father-in-law is deepened when Chorb and his bride escape from the formality of their wedding to spend their first night at a local seedy hotel.

On the honeymoon, the bride accidentally touches a live electric wire near Nice and dies. Chorb now returns to recreate her image by visiting the sites they had been to together and to tell her parents. Arriving in the evening he only finds the maid at the Keller's home who have gone to the opera to see Parsifal.

Chorb does not want to break the news to her and tells her that his bride is ill and he will be back in the morning. He returns to the hotel to spend the night in the same room he had been with his wife. Unable to stay in the room alone, he pays a prostitute to stay with him.

When the Kellers get home, they are too alarmed to wait for the morning and leave for the hotel. There, during the night, Chorb sees his wife in the prostitute, screams, and the terrified woman is about to leave: at this moment the Kellers arrive.


The Return of Chorb , one of the earliest short stories of Nabokov, contains a complicated structure due to the non-linear narrative and the buildup to a confrontation between Chorb and Keller that is ultimately withheld from the reader. The unnamed bride of Chorb has a supernatural, quasi spectral presence in the story underlined by the matter of her death through electricity and the ghost-like appearance of the prostitute when Chorb sees his wife in her.

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