There are only few precedents in the world literature when writers produce the major bulk of their work simultaneously in two languages. Despite that, Vladimir Nabokov, a style virtuoso, whose artistry lies in immense linguistic ingenuity, both in Russian and English, was denied The Nobel Prize four times because of his novel Lolita. The most stunning quality of Nabokov's prose is his unexpected point of regard: by uncovering the metaphysical lining of the mundane, he turns the familiar universe on its axes. Fresh metaphors; paradoxical denouements; an unreliable narrator – these are just some features of his style that reward an attentive reader with great aesthetic pleasure.
In this course I will focus on Nabokov's earlier, “Russian” period, less known to the North American audience. That was the time when a penniless refugee in prewar Berlin, then in his 20s and 30s, created in Russian dozens of superb short stories, several novels and volumes of poetry later translated into English by his son under the supervision of the author. I will supplement the discussion with social, political and biographical contexts that will equip us with better understanding of the texts. Since Nabokov's stories allow numerous interpretations, I'm looking forward to hearing your takes on them.
1. The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov
Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1995 (I recommend to get the actual book. Libraries. Amazon or ABE Books are some of the sources).
2. Mary, any edition. (This is the first novel Nabokov wrote; small in volume; an easy read).
List of Short Stories to be Discussed:
1. A Letter That Never Reached Russia
2. The Admiralty Spire
3. First Love
4. Tyrants Destroyed
5. Signs and Symbols
7. Cloud, Castle, Lake
8. The Return of Chorb
10. The Aurelian
11. The Potato Elf
9. Mademoiselle O.
Note: If you don't have access to the Zoom application on a computer, tablet or smart phone, Zoom presentations are also available by dialing in using a landline or cellphone. On the day and time of the course, call 778-907-2071 (within Metro Vancouver) and enter the Meeting ID and Passcode that were given after registering for the course. If you live outside of metro Vancouver, please look up the local phone number for your locationat https://zoom.us/u/akJIpJnoy (The calls are muted when you join the meeting, to unmute yourself, please press *6 - as per instructions on the phone).