Not only are Vladimir Nabokovs style and strategies richer than readers have suspected, they also express an original philosophy of consciousness - a lucid and coherent aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. This is the essential argument of Brian Boyds Nabokovs Ada: The Place of Consciousness, a study that has been widely acclaimed as the definitive guide to a great twentieth-century literary classic.
Boyd reveals the myriad ways Nabokov found both to extol the amplitude and freedom of consciousness and at the same time to deplore our appalling entrapment in the self and the moment. Nabokov sought always to transcend the limits of the mind, looking for intimations of some freer consciousness beyond the mortal and material world. These attitudes, as Boyd shows, shape every level of his fiction, from the patterning of phrases to the interplay between reader and author.
Ada is Nabokovs longest and lushest novel, and Boyd demonstrates how it takes Nabokov's style and thought to new heights. Although the central character, Van Veen, seems only to celebrate his love for his sister Ada, Nabokov's own focus is as much on their far more ordinary half-sister, Lucette, whom Van and Ada overlook or tragically entangle in ways that serve as an index and indictment of their actions. Even after her suicide, Lucette returns to enrich both the lives of Van Veen and Ada and their lyrical tribute to their past.
In a new preface for CYBEREDITIONS, Brian Boyd places Ada in the context of Nabokovs work, subsequent critical discussion, and his own later work. He adds four new chapters, written in the late 1980s and the 1990s, offering overviews of Ada from a variety of new vantage points. An Index of Passages in Ada allows readers to check for discussions of particular chapters of the novel, while a detailed General Index serves those interested in Ada in particular or in tracing Nabokovs style or thought in general.
With the appearance of this augmented edition of Nabokovs Ada: The Place of Consciousness, Brian Boyd has greatly enhanced and updated the essential guide both to the thought of one of the twentieth centurys greatest writers and to one of his most complex and rewarding works.
Awarded the NOJ (Nabokov On-Line Journal) 2012 Prize for Best Contribution to Nabokov Studies 2000-2011
. . . an instant classic - Nabokov Studies
. . . magnificent - Simon Karlinsky, Washington Post
Brian Boyd knows more about Nabokov's longest and most complex book than any other scholar. . . . the book seriously engages Nabokov's metaphysics and ethics and brings them to bear on his chef-d'oeuvre. . . . stunning . . . a major contribution to Nabokov scholarship and a delight for all serious students of Nabokov. - D. Barton Johnson, Slavic and East European Journal
. . . exceptionally fine . . . provides not only the best commentary on the novel, but also a most perceptive overview of Nabokov's art in general. . . . a brilliant overview of Nabokov's metaphysics. - Stephen Jan Parker, Understanding Vladimir Nabokov
. . . the most thorough-going investigation of Ada to date, and with application outside this novel to Nabokovs entire production and philosophy. - Jane Grayson, Slavonic Review
. . . the definitive work on Ada. . . . rivals Stanley Fish in showing, for example, how readers are lulled into failures of judgment by the Rimbaud intertext to the otherwise Marvellian passage beginning Stumbling on melons, fiercely beheading the tall arrogant fennels with his riding crop, Van . . . . Boyd's reading of these lines is one of the finest of Nabokovs prose that I know. - Charles Ross, Modern Fiction Studies
. . . a deep and clear treatise of Nabokovs artistic ontology, where new horizons loom on every page (as William James said of another philosophical work). - Gennadi Barabtarlo, Phantom of Fact: A Guide to Nabokovs Pnin
Brian Boyd is a niversity Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at the University of Auckland. He has written, among other works, Nabokovs Ada: The Place of Consciousness (first edition, Ardis, 1985); a two-volume biography, Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years (Princeton, 1990) and Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years (Princeton, 1991); and Nabokovs Pale Fire: The Magic of Artistic Discovery (Princeton, 1999) niversity Distinguished Professor in the Department of
English at the University of Auckland. He has written, among other
works, Nabokov's Ada: The Place of Consciousness (first edition,
Ardis, 1985); a two-volume biography, Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian
Years (Princeton, 1990) and Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years
(Princeton, 1991); Nabokov's Pale Fire: The Magic of Artistic Discovery (Princeton, 1999);
and Stalking Nabokov: Selected Essays (Columbia, 2011).
He has edited Nabokovs English-language novels, memoirs and screenplay (3 vols., Library of America, 1996),
and, with Robert Michael Pyle, Nabokovs Butterflies: Unpublished and Uncollected Writings (Beacon, 2000);
and with Stanislav Shvabrin, Nabokov's Russian verse translations, Verses and Versions: Three Centuries of Russian Poetry (Harcourt, 2008).
He has also written on literature, evolution, and cognition: On the Origin
of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction (Harvard, 2009) and Why
Lyrics Last: Evolution, Cognition, and Shakespeare's Sonnets
He is currently co-editing, with Olga Voronina, Nabokov's Letters to Véra (Knopf/Penguin) and writing a biography of
the philosopher Karl Popper (Harvard).
See Brian Boyd's ADAonline.
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