Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.440695
Title: Nabokov and play
Author: Karshan, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0000 5323 2818
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
In December 1925, Vladimir Nabokov said that "everything in the world plays" and that "everything good in life - love, nature, the arts and domestic puns - is play." This thesis argues that, after December 1925, play was Nabokov's leading idea. Previous critics have spoken of Nabokov as a playful writer but have not drawn on the untranslated early Russian texts; have rarely discussed the actual games depicted in his novels; and have been vague on what it means to call Nabokov a playful writer. This thesis argues that Nabokov's novels after 1925 are all playful or game-like in different ways related to the games they depict, and become ever more radically so. It provides a chronological narrative of play as the evolving subject and style of Nabokov's writing. The first chapter discusses the sources of Nabokov's idea of aesthetic play in Kant, Schiller, and Nietzsche. The second chapter traces the emergence of play in Nabokov's earliest writings, from 1918 to 1925, isolating the themes of play of self, play as make-believe, and play as violence. The third chapter looks at how in King, Queen, Knave (1927) and The Luzhin Defense (1930), Nabokov adopted the scheme of Lewis CarrolPs two Alice books, first using cards as an image of play and freedom, then chess as an image of rule and game. The fourth chapter shows that in the 1930s Nabokov wrote about play in contrast to work, and deals with Glory (1931), Despair (1934), Invitation to a Beheading (1935-6), and The Gift (1937-8; 1952). The fifth chapter is about free play in Nabokov's American writing, and emphasises the influence of Joyce's Finnegans Wake. It covers Bend Sinister (1947), Speak, Memory (1951; 1967), Lolita (1955) and Ada (1969). The sixth chapter argues that Pale Fire (1962) belongs to the genre of the literary game, and is in complex intertextual relation to a previous literary game, Pope's Dunciad.
Supervisor: Lee, Hermione ; Kahn, Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.440695  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Criticism and interpretation ; Play in literature
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