Lecture 7 - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (cont)

The American Novel Since 1945

Yale

In the last of three lectures on Lolita, Professor Amy Hungerford discusses the broader context of Nabokov's relation to his novel: both the debate it inspires surrounding censorship and artistic originality, and the concern it evokes in him about the work of art's distillation of the living world or word. Hungerford masterfully draws connections between Nabokov's interest in lepidoptery--butterfly collecting--with his evident fear that the printed word become lapidary, or stone-like. Just as we can no longer appreciate the beauty of a butterfly's motion, once it has been pinned down, so too might living language fall victim to a kind of violence on the page, a formal equivalent to the thematic violence that increases as the novel progresses.

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