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A study of the work of Vladimir Nabokov in the context of contemporary American fiction and film

Wyllie, Barbara Elisabeth; (2000) A study of the work of Vladimir Nabokov in the context of contemporary American fiction and film. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Twentieth-century American culture has been dominated by a preoccupation with image. The supremacy of image has been promoted and refined by cinema which has sustained its place as America's foremost cultural and artistic medium. Vision as a perceptual mode is also a compelling and dynamic aspect central to Nabokov's creative imagination. Film was a fascination from childhood, but Nabokov's interest in the medium extended beyond his experiences as an extra and his attempts to write for screen in Berlin in the 1920s and '30s, or the declared cinematic novel of 1938, Laughter in the Dark and his screenplay for Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film version of Lolita. Nabokov assimilated the styles and techniques of cinema into his fiction, not as a passing experiment, but as a permanent aspect of his art. From his earliest work he demonstrates an affinity with the cinematic perspective not only of German and Soviet film-makers, but equally with that of contemporary American writers John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and William Faulkner. Like the work of Americans in the 1930s, Nabokov's early Russian fiction precursed the fundamental visual and narrative innovations of 1940s film noir which, along with elements of 'Screwball' comedy, Nabokov adapted and utilized in Lolita. At the same time, the cinematic mode is fundamental to Nabokov's exposition of pivotal themes of memory, mortality and the imagination in both his fictional and autobiographical work. In the late novels his deployment of cinematics extended from film and photography to television which both reflected the changing dynamics in the visual culture of contemporary America and presented an explicit revision of narrative and perceptual conventions paralleled by the New Hollywood film-makers of the early 1970s.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: A study of the work of Vladimir Nabokov in the context of contemporary American fiction and film
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Nabokov, Vladimir
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10097432
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