Skip to main content

Nabokov's Dystopia: Bend Sinister, America and Mass Culture

Norman, Will (2009) Nabokov's Dystopia: Bend Sinister, America and Mass Culture. Journal of American Studies, 43 (01). pp. 49-69. ISSN 0021-8758. (doi:10.1017/S0021875809006549) (KAR id:35992)

PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English
Download (297kB) Preview
[thumbnail of Nabokov's Dystopia.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL


“I am as American as April in Arizona,” Nabokov claimed in a 1966 interview. Although he repeatedly emphasized his American citizenship and the affection he held for his adopted nation, my argument is that his 1947 novel, Bend Sinister, offers us an opportunity to interrogate the received narrative of Nabokov's unproblematic arrival and assimilation into the United States. In examining the engagement with mass culture in this dystopian novel, my intention is to restore some of the political valence denied the novel by both Nabokov and his readers, and to suggest how it functions as a critique of American culture which reveals the author's profound ambivalence about his adopted nation in the early to mid-1940s. Drawing on unpublished archive material, as well as theoretical work by Theodor Adorno, this paper opens up a new approach to Nabokov's American work and demands a reassessment of his avowed apoliticism.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0021875809006549
Additional information: Copyright Journal of American Studies
Uncontrolled keywords: Nabokov, Adorno, Bend Sinister, mass culture
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Will Norman
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2013 16:17 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Norman, Will:
  • Depositors only (login required):