Professor Chloë Kitzinger

In English. No prerequisites.

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

This course explores the world and works of the Russian and American writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977). As Nabokov taught his students, “great novels are great fairy tales.” We will read his novels with an eye to the spells they cast and how they cast them. The course begins with short stories from Nabokov’s Russian-language Berlin period and selected chapters from his luminous autobiography, Speak, Memory. We’ll go on to a selection of his major English-language novels, including The Real Life of Sebastian KnightLolitaPnin, and Pale Fire. Throughout these works, we will trace the threads of a few defining themes: the breathtaking deceptions of nature and of art; the games of poetry, narrative, and chess; and aesthetic freedom preserved in the face of tyranny (political and otherwise). What is love, and how does perversion help explain it? What does it mean to be exiled from your home, country, language, or past? How should we read literature, and what can ways of reading tell us about the ways we live? No prerequisites; all readings and discussions in English.