Autofiction, or works in which the eponymous author appears as a fictionalized character, represents a significant trend in postwar American literature, when it proliferated to become a kind of postmodern cliché. The Story of “Me”charts the history and development of this genre, analyzing its narratological effects and discussing its cultural implications. By tracing autofiction’s conceptual issues through case studies and an array of texts, Marjorie Worthington sheds light on a number of issues for postwar American writing: the maleness of the postmodern canon—and anxieties created by the supposed waning of male privilege—the relationship between celebrity and authorship, the influence of theory, the angst stemming from claims of the “death of the author,” and the rise of memoir culture.
Worthington constructs and contextualizes a bridge between the French literary context, from which the term originated, and the rise of autofiction among various American literary movements, from modernism to New Criticism to New Journalism. The Story of “Me” demonstrates that the burgeoning of autofiction serves as a barometer of American literature, from modernist authorial effacement to postmodern literary self-consciousness.
The foundational text for the acclaimed New York Times and international best seller Reading Lolita in Tehran
The ruler of a totalitarian state seeks validation from a former schoolmate, now the nation’s foremost thinker, in order to access a cultural cache alien to his regime. A literary critic provides commentary on an unfinished poem that both foretells the poet’s death and announces the critic’s secret identity as the king of a lost country. The greatest of Vladimir Nabokov’s enchanters—Humbert—is lost within the antithesis of a fairy story, in which Lolita does not hold the key to his past but rather imprisons him within the knowledge of his distance from that past.
In this precursor to her international best seller Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi deftly explores the worlds apparently lost to Nabokov’s characters, their portals of access to those worlds, and how other worlds hold a mirror to Nabokov’s experiences of physical, linguistic, and recollective exile. Written before Nafisi left the Islamic Republic of Iran, and now published in English for the first time and with a new introduction by the author, this book evokes the reader’s quintessential journey of discovery and reveals what caused Nabokov to distinctively shape and reshape that journey for the author.
Azar Nafisi has taught at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, Allameh Tabatabi, and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. She is the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, as well as Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories of a Prodigal Daughter and The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books.
« In Nabokov and Indeterminacy, Priscilla Meyer shows how Vladimir Nabokov’s early novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight illuminates his later work. Meyer first focuses on Sebastian Knight, exploring how Nabokov associates his characters with systems of subtextual references to Russian, British, and American literary and philosophical works. She then turns to Lolita and Pale Fire, applying these insights to show that these later novels clearly differentiate the characters through subtextual references, and that Sebastian Knight’s construction models that of Pale Fire.
Meyer argues that the dialogue Nabokov constructs among subtexts explores his central concern: the continued existence of the spirit beyond bodily death. She suggests that because Nabokov’s art was a quest for an unattainable knowledge of the otherworldly, knowledge which can never be conclusive, Nabokov’s novels are never closed in plot, theme, or resolution—they take as their hidden theme the unfinalizability that Bakhtin says characterizes all novels.
The conclusions of Nabokov’s novels demand a rereading, and each rereading yields a different novel. The reader can never get back to the same beginning, never attain a conclusion, and instead becomes an adept of Nabokov’s quest. Meyer emphasizes that, unlike much postmodern fiction, the contradictions created by Nabokov’s multiple paths do not imply that existence is constructed arbitrarily of pre-existing fragments, but rather that these fragments lead to an ever-deepening approach to the unknowable. »
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« No marriage of a major twentieth-century writer is quite as beguiling as that of Vladimir Nabokov’s to Véra Slonim. She shared his delight in life’s trifles and literature’s treasures, and he rated her as having the best and quickest sense of humor of any woman he had met. From their first encounter in 1923, Vladimir’s letters to Véra form a narrative arc that tells a half-century-long love story, one that is playful, romantic, pithy and memorable. At the same time, the letters tell us much about the man and the writer. We see the infectious fascination with which Vladimir observed everything—animals, people, speech, the landscapes and cityscapes he encountered—and learn of the poems, plays, stories, novels, memoirs, screenplays and translations on which he worked ceaselessly. This delicious volume contains twenty-one photographs, as well as facsimiles of the letters themselves and the puzzles and doodles Vladimir often sent to Véra. »
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« Data meets literature in this “enlightening” (The Wall Street Journal), “brilliant” (The Boston Globe), “Nate Silver-esque” (O, The Oprah Magazine) look at what the numbers have to say about our favorite authors and their masterpieces.
There’s a famous piece of writing advice—offered by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and myriad writers in between—not to use -ly adverbs like “quickly” or “angrily.” It sounds like solid advice, but can we actually test it? If we were to count all the -ly adverbs these authors used in their careers, do they follow their own advice? What’s more, do great books in general—the classics and the bestsellers—share this trait?
In the age of big data we can answer questions like these in the blink of an eye. In Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, a “literary detective story: fast-paced, thought-provoking, and intriguing” (Brian Christian, coauthor of Algorithms to Live By), statistician and journalist Ben Blatt explores the wealth of fun findings that can be discovered by using text and data analysis. He assembles a database of thousands of books and hundreds of millions of words, and then he asks the questions that have intrigued book lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? What makes a great opening sentence? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring?
All of Blatt’s investigations and experiments are original, conducted himself, and no math knowledge is needed to enjoy the book. On every page, there are new and eye-opening findings. By the end, you will have a newfound appreciation of your favorite authors and also come away with a fresh perspective on your own writing. “Blatt’s new book reveals surprising literary secrets” (Entertainment Weekly) and casts an x-ray through literature, allowing us to see both the patterns that hold it together and the brilliant flourishes that allow it to spring to life. »
Description de l’éditeur : « Vladimir Nabokov et sa femme Véra se sont rencontrés en 1923, à Berlin, où leurs familles respectives avaient fui le pouvoir bolchevique. Tout au long du demi-siècle que dure leur mariage, ils ne sont séparés que rarement, mais alors il lui écrit chaque jour : ainsi quand Véra part se soigner dans un sanatorium de la Forêt Noire, quand Vladimir rend visite à sa famille réfugiée à Prague, où quand Véra tarde à le rejoindre à Paris. Plus tard, ses conférences dans le Sud des États-Unis suscitent de nouvelles lettres. Dans toute cette correspondance, pour nous à sens unique – Véra ayant détruit ses propres lettres –, on voit la passion de Nabokov pour sa femme, sa vie quotidienne dans le milieu de l’émigration russe à Berlin, les bouleversements auxquels tous deux sont confrontés dans leur vie matérielle et affective, le dénuement qui est le sien lors de ses débuts à Paris, l’intérêt croissant suscité par son œuvre auprès des éditeurs et d’un public éclairé, le soutien indéfectible que lui apporte Véra.
Ces lettres, outre ce qu’elles révèlent sur l’homme, nous font découvrir le laboratoire de l’écrivain – son énergie créatrice, la pléthore de sujets qui surgissent et disparaissent, l’intensité de son travail – et on y reconnaît l’originalité de son style : sa veine parodique, poétique, sa vivacité et ses jeux de mots. »