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Vladimir Nabokov and the Poetics of Liberalism

An NU Press Title

6.125 x 9.25, 344 pp.
Paper Text

ISBN 978-0-8101-2854-5 / $45.00

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Vladimir Nabokov and the Poetics of Liberalism

Dana Dragunoiu

Alongside the puzzles contained in Nabokov’s fiction, scholars have been unable to untangle the seemingly contradictory relationship between, on one hand, the fiction and the beliefs and principles suggested by Nabokov’s biography and, on the other hand, the statements he made outside of his work. Through a close examination of Nabokov’s father’s political, moral, and aesthetic values and, more generally, Russian liberalism as it existed in the first few decades of the twentieth century, Dragunoiu provides persuasive answers to many long-standing questions in this deeply researched, innovative study. Showing the particular influence of the thought of Kant and Berkeley, she focuses on what she calls Nabokov’s “most deceptively apolitical novels”: The Gift, Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada. In bringing to them a more extensive context than previous Nabokov scholars, Dragunoiu argues that their treatment of various moral and political subjects can be more clearly understood in the light of ideas inherited by Nabokov from his father and his father’s generation.

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