A Study of his Novels and Plays, 1926–1939
This book argues that ideology is a prism through which the work of Vladimir Nabokov needs to be considered. It is thus the first attempt to foreground questions of ideology and politics within a field that has historically been resistant to such readings.
The perception of Nabokov as an apolitical writer is one which the author encouraged throughout the latter part of his career in his non-fictional writings and in the small number of well-rehearsed interviews that he gave. When questions of ideology and politics have arisen in scholarship, they have only been featured in passing or have merely re-confirmed the author’s self-designation as an «old-fashioned liberal». When we consider that Nabokov lived through some of the most traumatic historical ruptures of the past century then this lack of reference to ideology in the critical literature appears quite revealing.
Through the analysis of works which have previously received little attention as well as new perspectives on better known works, this book demonstrates how ideology and politics were ever-present and had an indelible effect on Nabokov's literary aesthetics.
Chapter 1: The Ruthless Schemers of Tomsk and Atomsk: The Man from the USSR and The Waltz Invention
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The Ruthless Schemers of Tomsk and Atomsk: The Man from the USSR and The Waltz Invention
I wish to point out most emphatically that not only is there in my play no political ‘message’ […] but that publication of its English version today has no topical import; nor would I have attempted to invent my poor Waltz today lest any part of me, even my shadow, even one shoulder of my shadow, might seem thereby to join in those ‘peace’ demonstrations conducted by old knaves and young fools, the only result of which is to give the necessary peace of mind to the ruthless schemers in Tomsk and Atomsk.
— Foreword, The Waltz Invention
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