Nabokov : the artist against caprice

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mary Elizabeth Parker (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Keith Cushman

Abstract: This study examines the use of detachment in the novels of Vladimir Nabokov, a detachment that has earned Nabokov an undeserved reputation as an aesthete interested only in manipulating his characters within intriguing artistic patterns. I attempt to show that Nabokov's detachment is a device for provoking both his protagonists and his readers into shedding their complacency and assuming a perceptive1, engaged stance toward the world. His detachment imitates, and thereby exposes', a power I call Caprice, a whimsically destructive force at large in the world, as inexorable as the Fates, yet never as predictable. Nabokov's weaker characters cannot decipher Caprice's patterns, and they become alienated ciphers, lost in madness or drifting on the periphery of life. His artist heroes, though, are strong enough to insistently carve out their own moral niches within the chaos of an amoral world. The Nabokovian hero's artistic sense is grounded in a continual awareness of the beauties as well as the horrors of the phenomenal world; and he uses his imagination to highlight these beauties and transform the horrors. He controls the imaginative constructs with which he reshapes his world.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1987
Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich, $d 1899-1977 $x Criticism and interpretation
Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich, $d 1899-1977 $x Characters

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