Imagining Nabokov (Paperback)

Russia Between Art and Politics

By Nina L. Khrushcheva

Yale University Press, 9780300207323, 256pp.

Publication Date: December 12, 2013

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Vladimir Nabokov’s “Western choice”—his exile to the West after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution—allowed him to take a crucial literary journey, leaving the closed nineteenth-century Russian culture behind and arriving in the extreme openness of twentieth-century America. In Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics, Nina L. Khrushcheva offers the novel hypothesis that because of this journey, the works of Russian-turned-American Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) are highly relevant to the political transformation under way in Russia today. Khrushcheva, a Russian living in America, finds in Nabokov’s novels a useful guide for Russia’s integration into the globalized world. Now one of Nabokov’s “Western” characters herself, she discusses the cultural and social realities of contemporary Russia that he foresaw a half-century earlier.


In Pale Fire; Ada, or Ardor; Pnin; and other works, Nabokov reinterpreted the traditions of Russian fiction, shifting emphasis from personal misery and communal life to the notion of forging one’s own “happy” destiny. In the twenty-first century Russia faces a similar challenge, Khrushcheva contends, and Nabokov’s work reveals how skills may be acquired to cope with the advent of democracy, capitalism, and open borders.



About the Author

Nina L. Khrushcheva is associate professor of international affairs, International Affairs Program, The New School, New York. The great-granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, she now lives in New York City.