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Liberal · the true

Author: ZhengDanDan
Tutor: ShiFengHua
School: South China Normal University
Course: Comparative Literature and World Literature
Keywords: the "otherworld" liberalism aesthetics without utility free ethics intrinsic states
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Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2007
Downloads: 199
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Abstract


As a writer who owned great talents and diverse cultural backgrounds, Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was quite extraordinary in the history of Comparative Literature. The idea of "otherworld" Is a mystical power that penetrated through Nabokov’s whole life and literary works. It developed from religious belief, and it’s hard to generalize what the otherworld is because of it’s mystery and ambiguity.This paper analyses Nabokov’s novels by Narrative theory, New-critisim’s close reading theory, Religion theory and Reader response theory, etc. The thesis trys to state and explain my view of Nabokov’s otherworld, and it try to offer a supplement for the study of Nabokov’s literature heritage.In my opinion, Nabokov’s works intended to express his feelings and thoughts. This paper explores the metaphysics of the otherworld, which can be named freedom. We will discuss Nabokov’s free aesthetic conceptions and ethics as well. The trinity of freedom, aesthetics and ethics constructed a spirit power that pursued human freedom, beauty without utility, and intrinsic states. The paper will take up the following four questions one by one. The first chapter analyses th history of the "otherworld", and it also expounds the religious conversion and the changes of modern religion thoughts. We hold that Nabokov’s otherworld had gone beyond the concept of "religion", and it was a individual "religious" expericence. The essence of Nabokov’s otherworld is freedom. The second chapter discusses Nabokov’s liberalism, which attached importance to human beings and stressed the freedom of soul. Nabokov holded the self conciousness and free will. He advocated the equality and respect to civil liberties in social life. And he opposed the domination and control by others. The third chapter discusses Nabokov’s aesthetic conceptions. Nabokov appreciated the bueaty without utility. He advocated inspiration, imagination and creativity. And he cherished the artistry in works. The fourth chapter discusses Nabokov’s free ethics and humanism. Nabokov cherished the virtue of human nature, and he respected the peculiarity and diverdity among people. Nabokov appreciated the freedom and intrinsic states in human nature. Therefore, His ethics expressed in the works didn’t mean the universal laws or the question "what should we do?", but the question that "how human beings can live in the world?". It embodied the constrastions between virtue and evil, the cruelty and anti-Semitism, and the fight between individual and crowd, ect. In Nabokov’s opinion, humen beings have the equality and dignity. Everyone can pursue the life styles that fit them, as long as they didn’t offend the interests of the society or others. At the end of this paper, we come to the conclusion that the "otherworld" Is the mystical thread that went through all of Nabokov’s literary works. It contains the respect of freedom in human nature, the appreciation and pursuit of the bueaty and artistry in works, the memory of his lost Russian home and childhood, the reminiscences of Russian culture, and the concern for the free and unrestrained states of human beings.Nabokov’s otherworld still gives inspiration to us today, and it offers the view of phylosical and cross-culture study. We are looking forward to more discoveries and surprises in the study of Nabokov’s literary heritage.

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