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Palgrave Macmillan

Nabokov's Eros and the Poetics of Desire

ISBN 9781137404589
Publication Date June 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Nabokov gained international fame with Lolita, a highly erotic and morally disturbing novel. Yet, he said in an interview: 'Let us skip sex!' a recommendation that most of his best exegetes followed all too readily. Through its comprehensive study of the amorous and sexual behaviours of Nabokov's characters this book shows how Eros, both as a clown or a pervert, contributes to the poetic excellence of his novels and accounts for the unfolding of the plots.
Nabokov presented a whole spectrum of sexual behaviours ranging from standard to perverse, either sterile like bestiality, sexual lethargy or sadism, or poetically creative, like homosexuality, nympholeptcy and incest. He made countless statements about Lolita and his other novels to deny that he was interested in sex; the epilogue shows him battling with censorship and self-censorship, a strategy which indirectly contributes to outlining his authorial figure in the reader's mind.

Maurice Couturier is Emeritus Professor at the University of Nice, France. He is the editor of Nabokov's novels in the Pléiade edition, and the translator of many of his and David Lodge's novels. He has undertaken a new career as a novelist.

Introduction
PART I: EROS' AGE-OLD TRICKS
1. The Tribulations of Adonis
2. Eve's Dupes
PART II: STERILE PERVERSIONS
3. A Mere Animal Need: King, Queen Knave
4. No Need
5. Cruelty is Bliss
PART III: CREATIVE PERVERSIONS
6. In a Glass Darkly: Pale Fire
7. Nymph-Hunting
8. Recreating the Androgyn: Ada
Epilogue: Eros' Denials
Bibliography
Index

Reviews

'The book escorts us through [Nabakov's] novels and stories with a mixture of quotation and summary. . . the result is both enjoyable and revelatory - an exhilarating, speeded-up journey through Nabakov's oeuvre' - The Guardian
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