Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000159, Thu, 9 Dec 1993 14:33:29 -0800

AAASS Paper abstract (fwd)
NABOKOVIANS: My thanks to S. Blackwell for the following item. I would
like to encourage other list subscribers to follow his example, especially
with regard to work in progress. D. Barton Johnson, Editor

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 93 17:19:54 EST
From: SHBLACKW@ucs.indiana.edu
To: nabokv-l@ucsbvm.bitnet
Subject: AAASS Paper abstract

To the List:

What follows is a brief abstract of the paper I read at the AAASS conference in
Honolulu. After that, those interested will find a BRIEF description of my
dissertation topic.

Steve Blackwell

Modes of Reading: Nabokov and the Russian Tradition

Stephen Blackwell, Indiana University

Presented at the AAASS annual conference, Honolulu, Hawaii,
November 21, 1993

In Nabokov's *Dar*, the protagonist's reading of Pushkin,
Gogol, and Chernyshevsky motivates and propels the novel's plot.
The theme of reading is the force that unifies *Dar*; the novel
addresses different types of reading and the evolution of reading
habits. It is also a novel about the effects of reading: even
though reading may be an intensely private activity, it has
consequences in the real world. In this paper I explore the
place of Pushkin, Gogol, and Chernyshevsky in the evolution of
Russian traditions of reading; I then examine Nabokov's critical
and artistic attitude toward these authors. Finally, I analyze
their integration in *Dar* into a meaningful artistic pattern
based on the complexity and power of reading.


Dissertation title: "Nabokov's *Dar*: The Image of Reading in
Artistic Creation."

In my dissertation, I am exploring the role reading plays in
the artistic construction of *Dar*. I had hoped to follow this
throughout the Russian novels, but will have to put the rest of
them off. I treat the image of reading (as embodied in the plot)
and the expectation of reading (as suggested by the novel's
structure) as artistic devices deployed consciously by Nabokov.
I trace the theme of reading through the novel; I also enumerate
those devices which seem particularly reception-oriented, as
opposed to those which emphasize the mimetic function. Finally,
I offer some possible explanations for the significance of these
devices within an interpretation of *Dar* and within Nabokov's
aesthetics generally.