Held Captive: Tolstoy, Nabokov, and the Aesthetics of Constraint
GERSHKOVICH-DISSERTATION-2016.pdf (974.1Kb)(embargoed until: 2022-05-01)
MetadataShow full item record
CitationGershkovich, Tatyana. 2016. Held Captive: Tolstoy, Nabokov, and the Aesthetics of Constraint. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines a counterintuitive artistic imperative that emerged from the struggles of Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Nabokov with an aesthetic problem of Kantian provenance. These two authors are widely considered to be opposed in their vision of art, but I show that their aesthetics in fact converge upon the same goal: to grant the reader a particular kind of freedom. These authors shared the Kantian view that aesthetic enjoyment requires that the reader not be constrained by any interest or concept. This feeling of freedom, they believed, is threatened not only when a reader looks to an artwork to satisfy his appetites (and thus remains bound by his sensuous interests), but also when he employs the artwork for a further intellectual or creative purpose of his own (and thus remains bound by his concepts). On the latter point, they concluded that too much interpretive license, rather than liberating the reader, actually leaves him trapped within his preexisting conceptual framework. To ensure that their own works grant the freedom necessary for genuine aesthetic pleasure, they developed narrative strategies that (in an apparent paradox) restrict how we read the text.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493286
- FAS Theses and Dissertations