herbert grabes  fictitious biographies

Fictitious Biographies: Vladimir Nabokov’s English Novels (The Hague: Mouton 1977) by Herbert Grabes is a book that aims to give insight into the complex structure of Nabokov’s novels written in English  (from The Real Life of Sebastian Knight to Look at the Harlequins).

Although the copious allusionary techniques and wordgames could only be given exemplary treatment, an attempt has been made to shed light on their respective function in the total conception of each novel. Above all this study concentrates on the relationship between fact and fiction – a problem central to all these novels which are not only written in the form of biographies or autobiographies but also make a special point of the problems connected with writing biography. And nowhere within fiction does the question of how to represent reality deserve more priority than in fictitious biography. The different ways in which Nabokov demonstrates this basic problem, inherent in e very genuine biography or autobiography, in the fictitious world of his novels is the main subject of this investigation, which is also well suited as a reader’s guide.


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Professor Herbert Grabes

Department of English / JLU Gießen

Otto-Behaghel-Straße 10 B
35394 Giessen
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Phone: +49 641 - 99 301 00 / -300 91 (Sekreteriat)
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E-Mail: Herbert.Grabes@anglistik.uni-giessen.de