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ASSOCIATION: doctoriales 2014 - SALIBA DIAS

Title (estimated): Literary incest or the meaning of incest in Vladimir Nabokov’s work
Institution: Humboldt University (Berlin)         Name of the supervisor: Helga Schwalm
Registration: May 2013
Date of completion (estimated):  2016/2017


The meaning of incest in Nabokov’s work

The proposal of research is to analyse the works by Vladimir Nabokov, specifically three novels, which deal with incest - Lolita, Ada or Ardor: a family Chronicle and Look at the Harlequins! - in order to understand why Nabokov chose this controversial subject and what its meaning in his work. It is also intended to pursue the subject in the short stories and poems of the author, being able to explain how he dealt with incest through his career.

To precede this analysis, the present research is organized in three chapters: in the first part the meaning of incest in different literary periods will be examined; in the second, the sources of Nabokov’s late flowering use of incest and, than, to present an interpretation of incest in Nabokov’s work.

Amid Nabokov’s work it is only in Ada or Ardor (1969) that incest is a major subject. In Lolita (1955) it appears only indirectly or disguised and in Look at Harlequins (1977) it will be incorporated as a retrospective of the author’s favorite themes.

The theory is, that incest rises in the late work of Nabokov as a creative incestuous relationship between many generations of writers and styles. Nabokov traces the evolution of the theme in the European Literature and intercourses them in a creative process, as a reworking of a tradition, a literary incest.

In this context, the meaning of incestuous behavior – which is usually, associated with fear, in the Gothic tradition or, with rebellion and alienation in the romantic approach - shifts to a new light. Now incest concerns the process of writing, the literary inheritance of a tradition and the creative voice.  It is a new Nabokovian ripple, only possible in the 20th century within the metafictional writing.

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