Memory in Nabokov's Ada : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University

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Massey University
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Artifice is a major preoccupation in Nabokov's English novels. Parody of literary genres and stances, parody of the reader's expectations, and authorial intrusions by narrator figures constantly remind the reader that Nabokov's novels are self-contained, fictional worlds. While the reader is confronted with a threefold awareness of fictional levels (characters acting out roles in the artificial world of a novel created by the author) Julia Bader points out that "it is not that the action of characters 'stand for' or 'represent' the writing of a novel or the figure of the artist, but that certain descriptions of experience, character, or emotion illustrate and approximate artistic creation".¹Bader, J., Crystal Land, p.3. In Ada this process focuses on an examination of memory, which forms the basis of human identity. The novel suggests that everyone is an artificer since man's awareness of himself and his world is dependent on the subjective impressions of his experience which are retained by memory. Through the personal memoirs of Van Veen, the novel illustrates the operations of memory as it constitutes the basis of all human consciousness. Imagination is seen as a form of memory, the unifying patterning power of mind that manipulates the impressions retained by memory to create man's private and projected fictions. [From Introduction]
Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich 1899-1977