Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.487029
Title: Nabokov, Time and History
Author: Norman, Will
ISNI:       0000 0000 7249 6106
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
This thesis investigates the relationship between the operation of time in the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov, and the historical moments in which his works are situated. Nabokov himself denied any connection between his art and history, writing that he was 'indifferent to social problems and to the intrusions of history.' I argue that the characteristic manipulations and distortions of time in his writing are the principle means by which he asserts this aesthetic autonomy, and that, far from ignoring or repressing history, Nabokov's fiction should be understood as responding to it. I begin by interrogating Nabokov's resistance to notions of modernism and modernity and trace the development of his ideal, ahistorical model of literary evolution from its sources in nineteenth-century English, I:rench and Russian literary debates. My second chapter examines how his first English novel, The Real Life ofSebastian Knight, constitutes a response to a perceived crisis in autonomous fiction during the 1930s in Europe and the Soviet Union. In chapter 3 I read Nabokov's autobiography, Speak, Memory alongside the critical writings of Walter Benjamin in order to evaluate Nabokov's strategies for creating a 'historyless time.' Chapter 4 proposes a reading of Bend Sinister and the short story 'Tyrants Destroyed,' in which the struggle for autonomy is played out through rival claims to temporal mastery from the artist and from the totalitarian regime. In chapter 5, I explore Nabokov's ambivalent engagement with decadent forms of temporality in The Enchanter and Lolita in the context of postwar American anxieties about literary and social history. Finally, chapter 6 turns to Nabokov's 1960s fiction, Pale Fire and Ada, in order to suggest how the author's use of the pastoral genre in these works constitutes an attempt to delineate an ideal artistic world, into which historical time inevitably intrudes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.487029  DOI: Not available
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