Vladimir Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature

Portraits of the Artist as Reader and Teacher


This volume offers insight into Vladimir Nabokov as a reader and a teacher, and sheds new light on the relationship of his views on literary aesthetics to the development of his own oeuvre. The essays included focus on the lectures on European and Russian literature that Nabokov gave at a number of American universities in the years between his arrival in the United States and the publication of Lolita. Nabokov’s treatment of literary masterpieces by Austen, Cervantes, Chekhov, Dickens, Flaubert, Gogol, Kafka, Joyce, Proust and Stevenson is assessed by experts on these authors.

Contributors are: Lara Delage-Toriel, Ben Dhooge, Yannicke Chupin, Roy Groen, Luc Herman, Flora Keersmaekers, Arthur Langeveld, Geert Lernout, Vivian Liska, Ilse Logie, Jürgen Pieters, Gerard de Vries.

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Ben Dhooge is professor of Russian Literature at Ghent University. His research focuses on early 20th century Russian literature, both Soviet and émigré. He has published on Andrey Platonov, Russian literary Modernism and early 20th century Russian émigré culture.

Jürgen Pieters is professor of Literary Theory at Ghent University. He is the author of several books on the methodology of New Historicism and edited collections on the work of Roland Barthes, Catherine Belsey and Stephen Greenblatt.
List of Contributors

Introduction: Reading Nabokov TeachingBen Dhooge and Jürgen Pieters

Part 1: FTeacher among Authors

1 Nabokov’s Reflections on ‘Proust’s Prismatic People’Yannicke Chupin

2 ‘The Author’s Pale Virgin Cheek’: Nabokov on AustenLuc Herman

3 Vladimir Nabokov on Don Quixote: ‘A Veritable Encyclopedia of Cruelty’Ilse Logie

4 The Beetle and the Butterfly: Nabokov’s Lecture on Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’Vivian Liska

5 ‘As Flaubert Intended It to Be Discussed’: Vladimir Nabokov and Jean Rousset on Madame BovaryFlora Keersmaekers

Part 2: Critic among Critics

6 Nabokov on Joyce and UlyssesGeert Lernout

7 Gogol Seen through the Eyes of NabokovArthur Langeveld

8 On an Unhappy Marriage, Henry James, and Atoms: Vladimir Nabokov Reading (on) Anton ChekhovBen Dhooge

Part 3: Author among Authors

9 ‘Do Dogs Eat Poppies?’: When Nabokov Teaches FlaubertLara Delage-Toriel

10 Of Words and Worlds: The Role of Proust’s Aesthetics in Nabokov’s Lectures on LiteratureRoy Groen

11 Vladimir Nabokov on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis StevensonGerard de Vries

Part 4: Epilogue

Afterword: (Flipping) Nabokov in the ClassroomJürgen Pieters

Specialist and general readership in Nabokov, literary theory and the teaching of literature. All interested in the work of the canonical authors involved and in discussions on the value of ‘great books’.
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