© 2016

Nabokov and the Question of Morality

Aesthetics, Metaphysics, and the Ethics of Fiction

  • Michael Rodgers
  • Susan Elizabeth Sweeney

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Michael Rodgers, Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
    Pages 1-18
  3. Responsible Reading

  4. Good and Evil

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 71-71
    2. Samuel Schuman
      Pages 73-86
    3. Gennady Barabtarlo
      Pages 87-108
  5. Agency and Altruism

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 127-127
    2. Jacqueline Hamrit
      Pages 129-142
    3. Laurence Piercy
      Pages 143-158
  6. The Ethics of Representation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 159-159
    2. Leland de la Durantaye
      Pages 183-196
    3. Michael Wood
      Pages 213-224
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 225-241

About this book


The first collection to address the vexing issue of Nabokov’s moral stances, this book argues that he designed his novels and stories as open-ended ethical problems for readers to confront. In a dozen new essays, international Nabokov scholars tackle those problems directly while addressing such questions as whether Nabokov was a bad reader, how he defined evil, if he believed in God, and how he constructed fictional works that led readers to become aware of their own moral positions. In order to elucidate his engagement with aesthetics, metaphysics, and ethics, Nabokov and the Question of Morality explores specific concepts in the volume’s four sections: “Responsible Reading,” “Good and Evil,” “Agency and Altruism,” and “The Ethics of Representation.” By bringing together fresh insights from leading Nabokovians and emerging scholars, this book establishes new interdisciplinary contexts for Nabokov studies and generates lively readings of works from his entire career.


Nabokov Morality Lolita Metaphysics Aesthetics

Editors and affiliations

  • Michael Rodgers
    • 1
  • Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
    • 2
  1. 1.English StudiesUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.English DepartmentCollege of the Holy CrossWorcesterUSA

About the editors

Michael Rodgers is a Teaching Assistant at the University of Strathclyde, UK, where he completed his PhD dissertation on the relationship between Vladimir Nabokov’s fiction and Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy. He is currently researching the idea of uncomfortable humor in twentieth-century literature.

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney is Professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross, USA. The author of over thirty essays on Nabokov, she was twice elected president of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society and currently coedits NABOKV-L, the Vladimir Nabokov Electronic Forum. She also publishes widely on American literature, detective fiction, and narrative theory.

Bibliographic information


“A wide-ranging set of essays that both sharpen the focus and broaden the field, to include issues of ethics, aesthetics and metaphysics, as well as comparative studies that reveal the extent of Nabokov’s engagement with formative developments in Russian and European literature and thought.” (Barbara Wyllie, Slavonic and East European Review SEER, Vol. 97 (2), April, 2019)

“Nabokov and the Question of Morality … assembles some of the best recent thought on it. … The volume should be required reading for any scholar seeking insight into the virtuoso … .” (Thomas Seifrid, Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 61 (3), 2017)