Professor Pavel Khazanov

In English. No prerequisites.

cross-listed with Comparative Literature 01:195:397:01 and English 01:358:363:02

Moralism and perversion. Games with truth. Meanspirited narrators, unreliable victims, titillated readers. And perhaps the most impressive trick– to become a famous author writing in two different languages, in two separate literary traditions. Our course will examine the works of the Russian and American writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), starting with his greatest, most scandalous success, the novel Lolita, and then working backwards and forwards, first to groundbreaking Russian short stories and novels like The Defense, and then to American creations, such as Pnin and Pale Fire, among others. Through this circular motion, we will try to make sense of the transnational, epochal forces that shaped this author and his works–such as aesthetic modernism and postmodernism, revolution and emigration, intellectual precarity and controversial mass-market notoriety. And in the midst of all of these forces, we will encounter again and again a central hero–the lyrical, unheroic and very often not entirely benign uprooted intellectual, a peculiar symbol of the twentieth century, its grand truths, and its catastrophic fictions. No prerequisites; all readings and discussions in English.