Slavic 134F: The Works of Vladimir Nabokov

TuTh 11-12:30, Barrows 166. Instructor: Eric Naiman.

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Arts & Literature breadth requirement.

Cross-listed with English 166, Section 11

We will study the work of Nabokov as a novelist on two continents over a period of nearly sixty years. The course will be structured (more or less) chronologically and divided between novels translated from Russian and written in English. After beginning several short stories, we will examine some of the fiction of his European period, before turning our attention to Lolita and Pnin. Competing interpretations of Nabokov will be considered, but our emphasis will be on metafiction, the theme of perversity and Nabokov’s cultivation of a perverse reader.

“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it.” Students should expect to devote a considerable amount of time to reading and rereading and should come to class prepared to discuss the assigned texts. Participants in the class should anticipate reading (and then, in a perfect world, curiously rereading) 150 pages per week. Written work will consist of two papers (5 to 10 pages) on topics to be chosen in consultation with the professor. Penalties will be assessed for late papers. There will be a midterm and a final examination.

Required: Nabokov, Vladimir
Laughter in the Dark
The Defense
The Gift
Short Stories

Prerequisites: none