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Academia in Fact and Fiction

Edited By Ludmiła Gruszewska-Blaim and Merritt Moseley

«Academia in Fact and Fiction» comprises twenty-eight essays on the relationship(s) between the university and the practice of belles lettres. The collection includes studies of the teaching of fiction by university professors; the fit – or misfit – between the creative writer and the academy; the depiction of the university, its staff and atmosphere, in literature, cinema and new media; and the varieties of academic fiction ranging from the ludic and satirical to the tragic. Most of the works addressed in the volume are British or American, modern or contemporary, but the historical range extends to Victorian and Shakespearian works, and the geographical range includes novels and poems from Russia, New Zealand, and Nigeria. Among the genres discussed are, in addition to the «literary novel», plays, detective fiction, fanfiction, utopias, mysteries and alternative history. The contributors are international and cosmopolitan.

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Life as Art, a ‘Systematically Correlated Assemblage’: Vladimir Nabokov’s Quest for Identity in His Novel, Pale Fire, and His Memoir, Speak, Memory (Geoffrey Green (San Francisco State University))

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Geoffrey Green

Life as Art, a ‘Systematically Correlated Assemblage’: Vladimir Nabokov’s Quest for Identity in His Novel, Pale Fire, and His Memoir, Speak, Memory

Synopsis: For Vladimir Nabokov, the university was his livelihood, its ambiance enabling writing, thinking, and critical interaction; his literary existence depended upon his university orientation, the academic world influencing his artistry. In Pale Fire, the professor creates a network whose meanings open out into a world of intertextual allusions: life as art, the “systematically correlated assemblage,” and how a human being seeks–through art–to transcend time’s indignities. In Speak, Memory, Nabokov folds in analogous tropes: artistic memory presenting “personal recollections” with artistic arrangement in quest of identity. Nabokov employs the lens of the university: artistic memory, arrangement, principles of selection and exclusion, constructed worlds of words within intellectual ambiances. Examining these texts through the lens of academic discourse, interpretation, historical events, and the representation of the university, we understand Nabokov as a scholar-fictionist.

For Vladimir Nabokov, the university provided many things: for his time in America, it was his livelihood. The university bestowed upon him the gateway to the library, supplying him with the ability to offset – at least partially – the debilitating losses of his exile. The university counteracted the exile by furnishing that ambiance that would enable him to write, think, and achieve a fertile critical interaction. Although ambivalent about teaching, Nabokov’s literary existence depended upon his university orientation, the academic world influencing his...

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