The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

reality and fiction

is the novel real or fictional?

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This excerpt is from gradesaver's study guide; I have provided the direct link for the entire guide below;

"The novel could be described as a fictional biography of a fictional author, Sebastian Knight. (Most critics have dismissed the notion that Sebastian Knight refers to an actual author, as Nabokov occasionally hinted.) The novel "performs," as it were, its own theme, given that Knight authored "research novels"; The Real Life of Sebastian Knight is a research novel itself -- an investigation of the identity and life of the title character. Nabokov thus blurs fact and fiction, writing a carefully researched "biography" of a fictional character. He layers his themes and genres, creating a prism of sorts that reflects different light depending on how you view it: view the book as V., the mysterious narrator, and it is a biography; view it as Nabokov and the book is a research novel about research novels. Even the book's basic conception, then, opens up the world of puzzles, games and identities that Nabokov explores within."