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Title: The ‘reality’ of speak, memory & pale fire
Authors: Neo, Dominic
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::Literature
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: Brian Boyd mentions that “Vladimir Nabokov learned to write fiction that was immediately accessible but that almost immediately encouraged us to begin exploring deeper fiction that would be found to be endlessly complex” (Magic 5). Indeed, this sentiment is wholly conveyed in Pale Fire – his oeuvre exists in a liminal realm, in which straddles a base reality and fantasy. Yet, in Speak, Memory – “the most artistic of all autobiographies” –, there is a striking similarity in which the work fleshes out this complexity: the work presents an acutely artificial reality in spite of its non-fictional nature (Boyd, American 149). Using a postmodern lens, in which the narrative reality itself is constantly fluctuating and, at times, meaningless, this essay will explore the nature of reality – and that of fiction, in general – in these works. What is fiction, in a postmodern world? Can literary works ever capture reality per se, or will it remain “an infinite succession of steps, levels of perception, false bottoms, and hence unquenchable, unattainable” (Nabokov, SO 9). Can we make anything meaningful, even when reality is inextricably linked to fantasy? Alas, these blurred lines make these works and reality fascinating but inscrutable at once.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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