Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Comparative Literature


Calin Mihailescu


This thesis is a comparative study of the novels of Vladimir Nabokov and Milan Kundera. The point of departure of my thesis is the inquiry to the narrative voices in their works and the search for the “real author” behind the deluded narratives. My thesis will begin with the examination of the role of parody in Nabokov’s novels, particularly Lolita. It further discusses how, through irony and imitation, Nabokov’s text, as Borges said about the Baroque style, “deliberately exhausts (or tries to exhaust) its possibilities and borders on its own caricature.” Bader’s metaphor, “refracted shades,” concerning the authorship of Pale Fire, is the crux of my reading of this centaur work. The chapter dedicated to Pale Fire is an examination of the relationships of the “shades” and their role as a literary technique in Nabokov’s work. The analysis of Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being is based on the dilemmas faced by the main characters of the novel. Their dilemmas are inseparable from the “terminal paradoxes” which are the foundation of the world which they live in. The paradoxes which underline Kundera’s fictions reveal the futility of human choices, the limitation of free will, and the dialectical unity of good and evil. The examination of the Nabokov’s and Kundera’s works also leads to the meditation on “reality” as commonly conceived. If the “real” people in the fictional world are reduced to literary techniques and philosophical thesis, we, in turn, are fictitious characters who in vain search for the real author behind this life, and these texts.



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