Vladimir Nabokov

Connolly, Julian W. Good Writer, Bad Reader?: Nabokov’s Lectures on Dostoevsky. 2016

Bibliographic title
Good Writer, Bad Reader?: Nabokov’s Lectures on Dostoevsky
Periodical or collection
Nabokov and the Question of Morality: Aesthetics, Metaphysics, and the Ethics of Fiction
Publication year
Connolly examines Nabokov’s published university lectures on the work of Dostoevsky to determine the accuracy of his claims about the artistic qualities of Dostoevsky’s fiction. Nabokov was often severe in his estimation of Dostoevsky’s artistic merit. Yet while Nabokov repeatedly emphasized the primacy of “art” over ideas, or esthetics over moral content, Connolly shows how his own lectures do not always exemplify this ideal. That is, Nabokov’s evaluation of Dostoevsky’s works seems concerned more with ethical, ideological, and religious issues than with what might be called esthetic criteria (such as style, language, or structure). “Nabokov and Dostoevsky: Good Writer, Bad Reader?” argues that if readers look at Dostoevsky’s work using Nabokov’s own preferred criteria, they will find that Dostoevsky’s works often meet those very criteria.