Vladimir Nabokov American Literature Analysis
Nabokov’s work has received considerable critical acclaim, and a consensus has been reached that he was at least a distinguished and arguably a great writer. He has exerted a major influence on contemporary authors such as Anthony Burgess, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, William Gass, Tom Stoppard, Philip Roth, John Updike, and Milan Kundera. Nabokov wrote at least three masterful novels: The Gift, Lolita, and Pale Fire. Several of his stories, including “Vesna Fialte” (“Spring in Fialta”) and “Signs and Symbols,” are among the century’s finest; his autobiography rivals Marcel Proust’s in the intensity and lyricism of its nostalgia.
Nabokov’s work is never intentionally didactic, sociological, ideological, or psychologically oriented; he detested moralistic, message-ridden writing. While his fictive world is filled with aberrant and bizarre characters—pederasts, buffoons, cripples, and obsessives of one sort or another—they are described not as psychological types but as representatives of the overwhelming vulgarity, freakishness, and pathos that corrupt human nature imposes on the sublimity of the natural and aesthetic world. Aestheticism is Nabokov’s secular religion, and his grotesques, such Lolita’s Humbert Humbert, Pale Fire’s Charles Kinbote, and The Defense’s Luzhin, are offenses against the sensitivity of the artistic imagination.
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