The recent controversy surrounding Nabokov’s unfinished novel, The Original of Laura, has raised questions about the place of “bad writing” in Nabokov’s oeuvre. Nabokov has been called a master of purposely “defective” fiction, writing whose defects offer a clue to the value of the work surrounding them. In this talk Eric Naiman will consider the place of bad writing in one of Nabokov’s simpler, less polished works, Laughter in the Dark. In particular the paper considers the impact of Tolstoy’s fiction and critical writing on the tension between aesthetic and ethical value in that novel.
Professor of Slavic Languages and Comparative Literature at Berkeley, ERIC NAIMAN is the author of Sex in Public: The Incarnation of Early Soviet Ideology (1997) and Nabokov, Perversely (2010) as well as the co-editor of Everyday Life in the Early Soviet Union: Taking the Revolution Inside and Stalinist Landscape (2006) and The Landscape of Stalinism: The Art and Ideology of Soviet Space (2005).