The Magician's Doubts: Nabokov and the Risks of Fiction

The Magician's Doubts: Nabokov and the Risks of Fiction

by Michael Wood
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0691048304

ISBN-13: 9780691048307

Pub. Date: 12/29/1997

Publisher: Princeton University Press

As a child in Russia, Vladimir Nabokov enjoyed conjuring: "I loved doing simple tricks—turning water into wine, that kind of thing." In this engrossing book Michael Wood explores the blend of arrogance and mischief that makes Nabokov such a fascinating and elusive master of fiction. Wood argues that Nabokov is neither the aesthete he liked to pretend to be

Overview

As a child in Russia, Vladimir Nabokov enjoyed conjuring: "I loved doing simple tricks—turning water into wine, that kind of thing." In this engrossing book Michael Wood explores the blend of arrogance and mischief that makes Nabokov such a fascinating and elusive master of fiction. Wood argues that Nabokov is neither the aesthete he liked to pretend to be nor the heavy-handed moralist recent critics make him. Major works like Pnin, Lolita, Pale Fire and Ada appear in a new light, but there are also chapters on earlier works, like the Real Life of Sebastian Knight; on selected short stories; and on the translation of Eugene Onegin, as well as detailed discussions of Nabokov's ideas of literature, memory, pity, and pain.

The book comes fully to terms with Nabokov's blend of playfulness and seriousness, delving into the real delight of reading him and the odd disquiet that lurks beneath that pleasure. Wood's speculations spin outward to illuminate the ambiguities and aspirations of the modern novel, and to raise the question of how we uncover "the author" in a work, without falling into the obvious biographical traps. The Magician's Doubts slices through the dustier conventions of criticism and never loses sight of the emotional and sensual pleasure of reading.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691048307
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
12/29/1997
Series:
Readers' Subscription Book Club Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.17(h) x 0.68(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements viii
Preface: Tricks of Loss 1
1. Deaths of the Author 9
2. Lost Souls: The Real Life of Sebastian Knight 29
3. The Cruelty of Chance: Bend Sinister, 'Signs and Symbols', 'The Vane Sisters' 55
4. The World Without Us: Speak, Memory 83
5. The Language of Lolita 103
6. The Poem of the Past: Eugene Onegin 143
7. Pnin's Revenge 157
8. The Demons of our Pity: Pale Fire 173
9. Happy Families: Ada 206
Epilogue: the History of Pain 232
Chronology: Works by Vladimir Nabokov in English 236
Notes 238
Index 249

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >