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lolita - Vladimir Nabokov(1899 1977 1 Background and...

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Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977) 1. Background and Biography
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From a life of Russian privilege? 1919: Germany after the Revolution The émigré writer / the roving modernist writer - never returned to Russia - Lived in Cambridge, Paris and Berlin - USA in 1940 Now wrote almost exclusively in English (implications?); academic and teacher; and part- time researcher in lepidoptery - 1955: success of Lolita allows him to write full time. Moved to Switzerland. Other works: 1951 Speak Memory 1962 Pale Fir e (postmodern?)
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2. Questions in Context Can we in rigidly divide modernism from postmodernism? Are there such things as radical breaks, sudden shifts? Or is there, instead, process, subsidence, slippage?
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3. From modernism to postmodernism Postmodernism in history … 20 th C: 1. Sociohistorical explanations: Fredric Jameson and post-1960s Postmodernism 2. Aesthetics explanations: - change from a distinction between high and low art - decline of faith in metanarratives - ‘reality’ receeds? - there is no reality to write a metanarrative about? - the ‘literature of exhaustion’
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Nabokov’s modernist aesthetics The Ivory Tower … from Strong Opinions (1973): ‘Nothing bores me more than political novels and the literature of social intent.’ ‘A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual … I don’t give a damn for the group, the community, the masses, and so forth. … what makes a work of fiction safe from larvae and rust is not its social importance but its art, only its art.’
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Art is difficult! Art confers (poetic) order! ‘I have never been able to see any generic difference between poetry and artistic prose.’ [SO] No room in art for ‘negative capability’! … but Humbert Humbert is an ‘anarchist’?
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