Portraits of Depravity: The Fiction of Vladimir Nabokov

In the tradition of his father, a progressive criminologist murdered by assassins, Nabokov wrote various celebrated novels that were portraits of depravity ranging the extremes—from lying, bullying, and “gnostical turpitude” to pedophilia and murder. By depicting aberrance with real psychological depth and in the context of compelling relationships, Nabokov explored criminality as a social phenomenon. What drives social deviance? How does legal responsibility withstand the rationalizations of immoral people and those who study them? With questions like these in mind, we will read Invitation to a Beheading, Lolita, and Pale Fire.

Meets: Saturday, January 29, 2011 – Saturday, March 12, 2011
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Richard Hugo House

General: $230.00
Members of Hugo House: $207.00
Click here for information on registration and financial aid.

Required Readings

Week 1

Invitation to a Beheading (first half)

Week 2

Invitation to a Beheading (second half)

Week 3

Lolita (first half)

Week 4

Lolita (second half)

Week 5

Pale Fire (first half)

Week 6

Pale Fire (second half)

Brian Boyd, Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years

Brian Boyd, Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years

Julian W. Connolly (ed.), Nabokov and his Fiction: New Perspectives

Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization

Kevin Ohi, Innocence and Rapture: The Erotic Child in Pater, Wilde, James, and Nabokov

Stacey Schiff, Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage

(discussion questions will be posted here a few days before each meeting)