MODULE #1: Mary

I have chosen Mary as the subject of this first module for several reasons:

1) Mary is Nabokov's first novel, and so, chronologically speaking, it is a plausible starting point for students new to Nabokov's work.

2) Mary is a relatively brief and straightforward text, easily readable in a few days.

3) Mary deals with themes that are, or should one day be, familiar to all of us: first love, loss, and the power of memory and imagination to recreate the past.

4) Mary contains the seeds of many of Nabokov's later themes and narrative devices and thus serves as an apt introduction to Nabokov's poetics.

5) Though originally written in Russian and thus potentially inaccessible to non-Russian-speakers, Mary was translated by Michael Glenny in close collaboration with Nabokov, and the English version is extremely faithful to the Russian text.

6) Mary is the most overtly autobiographical of Nabokov's novels, and as such it will allow us to make a few controlled sidetrips into the author's 'real life.'

(Update, 21 June 1999: responses to the Creative Writing Assignment have been posted HERE and HERE.)

(Update, 24 September 1999: the glossary to Mary has been updated and expanded.)

(Update, 12 October 1999: a sample answer to essay question #2 has been submitted by Alex Billington.)


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