Undergraduate English Courses

358:363 Nabokov

02  TTH4   CAC   16779         SC-202

This course same as 860:340 and 195:357

This course examines the writing of Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), an author whose works belong equally to the Russian and the American literary canons. As a Russian émigré writer, a polyglot, a translator, a specialist on such wide-ranging topics as butterflies and chess, Nabokov is remarkable for the breadth of his interests and abilities, and this intellectual reach is evident in his texts. We will first read Speak Memory, Nabokov's autobiographical work, as both a document of his life and an entry point into his fictions. We will then examine Nabokov's early Russian novels and short stories, composed during his exile in Berlin, and then turn to his later English-language works, composed during his American period. Throughout, we will trace Nabokov's abiding concerns with metaphysics and aesthetics, ethics and politics, memory, nostalgia, and exile. In particular, we will interrogate the author's "literary homelessness": his identity as an émigré writer, located outside of any national tradition or perhaps in two at once. We will also consider the peculiar design of his novels as textual puzzles, with "clues" planted for readers and characters alike. All readings and discussions in English.