NABOKV-L post 0026668, Tue, 1 Dec 2015 02:33:38 -0500

"Nabokov’s unique contribution to political theory as seen primarily through the lens of his novel Invitation to a Beheading"

- Timothy Wyman McCarty

Good Readers and Good Liberals: Nabokov’s Aesthetic LiberalismPolitical
Theory December 2015 43: 753-776,first published on July 9, 2014doi:
This Article

1. Published online before print July 9, 2014, doi:
10.1177/0090591714538430Political Theory December 2015 vol. 43 no. 6


Good Readers and Good LiberalsNabokov’s Aesthetic Liberalism
1. Timothy Wyman McCarty
1 <>⇑
1. 1Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, USA
1. Timothy Wyman McCarty, Visiting Assistant Professor, Government
Department, Franklin & Marshall College, 415 Harrisburg
Avenue, Lancaster,
PA 17603, USA.

This article offers an interpretation of Vladimir Nabokov’s unique
contribution to political theory as seen primarily through the
lens of his
novel *Invitation to a Beheading.* Although most frequently
interpreted as an indictment of totalitarianism, the novel depicts a form
of cruelty practiced not only by totalitarians, but also by the
rulers and
citizens of milder political orders, including liberalism. The novel
suggests that such cruelty is more insidious than that familiar
to readers
of dystopian novels precisely because of its universality. This article
demonstrates that Nabokov’s contribution to liberalism may be
found in the
surprising coherence between his aesthetic principles and his
art, both of
which critique the imposition of “general ideas” on either persons or
books. What emerges is a picture of aesthetic liberalism in
which Nabokov’s
model for the ideal liberal citizen is neither the sensitive
artist nor the
apolitical aesthete, but rather the careful reader.
- Vladimir Nabokov

- Liberalism
- Politics & Literature

- Rorty

- Shklar
- Rule of Law

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