Course Detail

195:357: Contemporary Novel – Nabokov

This course explores the world and works of the Russian and American writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977). As Nabokov taught his students, “great novels are great fairy tales.” We will read his novels with an eye to the spells they cast and how they cast them. Beginning with Nabokov’s Russian-language Berlin period (short stories and one novel, The Luzhin Defense), we’ll go on to a selection of his major English-language novels: Lolita, Pnin, and Pale Fire. We will also read Nabokov’s luminous autobiography, Speak, Memory. Throughout these works, we will trace the threads of a few defining themes: the breathtaking deceptions of nature and of art; the games of poetry, narrative, and chess; aesthetic freedom preserved in the face of tyranny (political and otherwise). What is love, and how does perversion help explain it? What does it mean to be exiled from your home, country, language, or past? How should we read literature, and what can ways of reading tell us in turn about the way we should live? All readings and discussions in English. Cross-listing 01:860:340:01.