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Vladimir Nabokov and the Ideological Aesthetic

A Study of his Novels and Plays, 1926–1939


Udith Dematagoda

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.

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About the author


Udith Dematagoda received his PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2016. He has taught English and comparative literature at the University of Glasgow and the University of Nice and he was visiting researcher at The Butler Library at Columbia University and The Berg Collection at the New York Public Library. He has written and presented extensively on Vladimir Nabokov in Russia, Europe and North America and is a member of the Société Française Vladimir Nabokov. His wider research focuses on ideology and aesthetics in relation to works of twentieth-century English and European modernist literature, masculinity and fascism, and the emergence and evolution of digital ideologies. He currently lives and works in Vienna.

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