Nabokov's Palace: The American Novels

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9781443824101: Nabokov's Palace: The American Novels
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Nabokov s distinguished and unique position in American literature has always been indisputable, but paradoxical. There has always been an element of foreignness in his writing. Nabokov s Palace, however, aims to discover those sub-texts and inter-textual patterns embedded in Nabokov s American novels which undeniably contribute towards making these works an integral part of the Anglo-American literary tradition. Aware of this tradition, in some of his late novels Nabokov also provides a literary historical overview of particular themes, such as friendship, melancholy, madness and trance, as they surfaced in literary texts throughout the history of English and American literature. To Nabokov 'aesthetic bliss' meant 'a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.' Most of Nabokov s American novels express through different elaborate literary structures, themes, motifs and metaphors these 'other states of being' where the 'fantastic recurrence' of literary situations and communion with dead poets and writers (Poe, Shakespeare, Hawthorne and Melville, among many others) becomes possible. The American 'reality' that some readers miss in his writings (with the exception of Lolita) and the absence of which questions whether Nabokov truly belongs to the Anglo-American tradition, is clearly to be found in the 'wayside murmur' of the allusive sub-texts. Nabokov s Palace is thus recommended for scholars, students and devotees of Nabokov s fiction who wish to make further discoveries in the distinct 'otherworld' of Art in Nabokov s American novels.

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About the Author:

Marta Pellerdi teaches English and American Literature at Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Piliscsaba, Hungary. She received her PhD degree in American Literature from Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary and has published several articles on Nabokov's American fiction in various Hungarian and international academic journals.

Review:

"If one was looking for a proof that the post-structuralist idea of reading one literary work through another one can with some authors be a splendid strategy of interpretation, Marta Pellerdi's Nabokov's Palace: The American Novels could serve as a welcome example. The title of this excellent contribution to the study of Nabokov's work already suggests her thesis that the novels written since his emigration to the United States are "American Novels" in the sense that they are part of the "Anglo-American tradition". In order to substantiate this view that so far has not received much attention, Pellerdi reads Nabokov's novels from the perspective of works by American authors representing that tradition and in this way is able to shed new light even on works that have been widely discussed already. Particularly revealing I found her reading of Lolita in conjunction with Hawthorne's The Marble Faun, of Ada with Melville's Pierre, and of Nabokov's last novels Transparent Things, Look at the Harlequins! and the fragmentary The Original of Laura with some tales and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Thanks to Pellerdi we now know much more about the influence on Nabokov's work of the literary tradition of the country in which he found refuge. Yet when all is said, one also remembers the quotation in her Introduction of the master plotter pointing out that he is "trilingual" whereas "all the writers I personally knew in America [...] are strictly monolinguists" - a polite way of saying that his literary horizon is so much wider than that of the American tradition." - Prof. Dr. (UWM) em. Herbert Grabes, Department of English Studies, Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen "Marta Pellerdi offers a fresh take on Nabokov's English novels. She makes a compelling argument that thematic and referential elements are crucially embedded in these works. Apart from illuminating examples in the English novels, Pellerdi persuasively analyzes an important avenue of nabokov's influences and extends our understanding of his layered artistry." - Julia Bader, Professor of English at U C Berkeley. "Nabokov's place will be useful, certainly to undergraduates, as a starting point for further investigation." - Barbara Wyllie, Seer, 90:1 (January 2012).

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