Nabokov and the Novel

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Harvard University Press, Jan 1, 1980 - 197 pages
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Ellen Pifer challenges the widely held assumption that Nabokov is a writer more interested in literary games than in living human beings. She demonstrates how Nabokov arranges the details of his fiction to explore human psychology and moral truth, and she argues her case with style.

Focusing on the most highly wrought and aesthetically self-conscious of Nabokov's novels, Pifer shows how he deploys artifice to bring into bold relief what is real. In her chapter on King, Queen, Knave she reveals Nabokov's radical distinction between genuine and simulated human existence. She shows how, in Invitation to a Beheading and Bend Sinister, he contrasts "grotesque design" of collectiveexistence with the individul'sradiant internal life. In Despair,Lolita, and Pale Fire Nabokov'sparody of the double illuminatesthe unique source of human consciousness. In Ada, as in the earlier Laughter in the Dark, the inhuman nature of aesthetic bliss qualifies its delights. Making clearthe moral perception of realitythat lies behind Nabokov's artisticstrategies, Pifer offers a newassessment of Nabokov's fictionand of his contribution to the tradition of the novel.

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Contents

The Question of Character
1
Consciousness Real Life and
14
III
49
Copyright

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About the author (1980)

Ellen Pifer is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Delaware. She is a former president of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society and the author of Nabokov and the Novel.

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