Category Archives: Nabokov (Vladimir)

Arguing against Lit for Lit’s Sake

Nabokov’s aestheticism in the 1960s tried to separate literature from history.

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England’s Most Humane Novel

A new bibliomemoir on “Middlemarch” shows a book shaping a life.

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Novels: Training Ground for Citizenship

Novels have an inherently liberal dimension in that they get us to identify with people very different from us.

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Paterno’s Rapist Associate and Mr. Hyde

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” warns us that we are in danger of becoming monsters ourselves if we don’t hold on to our humanity when responding to monsters like alleged child molester Jerry Sandusky, close associate of Coach Joe Paterno.

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Kiki Ostrenga as Sister Carrie

Columnist David Brooks recently turned to Theodore Dreiser’s 1900 novel “Sister Carrie” in an attempt to make sense of the strange and disturbing case of 13-year-old internet celebrity Kiki Ostrenga.

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American TV, the World’s English

Image from Poltergeist  I am pleased that Jason Blake, who teaches English at the University of Ljubljana, is becoming a regular contributor to this website. As an English speaker living in Slovenia, Jason is particularly sensitive to questions of language. In the following essay he triggers memories for me when he talks about how television, […]

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Michael Jackson and Peter Pan

  “I am Peter Pan,” Michael Jackson reportedly once said, and of course he chose to name his ranch Neverland. In this second of my two posts marking Jackson’s death, I thought I would reflect upon why J. M. Barrie’s fictional creation meant so much to him. Peter Pan: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up […]

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Iranian Women Identifying with Lolita

The kicker in the book title Reading Lolita in Iran is the shock of imagining people risking their freedom to read Nabokov’s scandalous masterpiece about an elderly writer who falls in love with twelve-year-old “nymphet” Dolores Hayes. What would anyone get out of that experience? The surprises keep on coming in Azar Nafisi’s book as […]

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Reviewing Lolita in Tehran

  Yesterday’s mention of Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books gave me an excuse to go back and reread that marvelous book. The work embodies the central premise of this website: that literature can come to our aid when we need it most, helping us negotiate even the most difficult of […]

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Fitzgerald (Scott F.), James (Henry), Nafisi (Azar), One Thousand and One Nights Author | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Sotomayor and Latina “Bias”

I’m going to take a break from one political topic—the disillusion that some who voted for Barack Obama are experiencing or will experience (and the ability of Gulliver’s Travels to help idealists of all stripes to understand and work through disillusion)—to take on another. There is a (predictable) furor over President Obama’s choice of Sonia […]

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