The Will to Disempower? Nabokov and his Readers

Rodgers, Michael (2016). The Will to Disempower? Nabokov and his Readers. In: Rodgers, Michael and Sweeney, Susan Elizabeth eds. Nabokov and the Question of Morality: Aesthetics, Metaphysics and the Ethics of Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 51–69.



Rodgers argues that aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy—specifically “master-slave morality” and the “will to power”—can articulate the interplay between author and reader in Nabokov’s work. Informed by Bernard Reginster’s interpretation of the will to power as the “activity of overcoming resistance,” the chapter claims that the disempowering distinction between elevated author and subjugated reader in Nabokov’s fiction engenders a readerly resistance. Rodgers illustrates this distinction by drawing on Nabokov’s published university lectures, on the epigraph and foreword to his novel Invitation to a Beheading, and on his short story “The Vane Sisters.” “The Will to Disempower? Nabokov and His Readers” focuses on the risks of readerly resistance as well as its empowering implications for “Nietzschean readers,” those who are conscious of Nabokov’s textual practice.

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