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Athletic Inspiration: Vladimir Nabokov and the Aesthetic Thrill of Sports

From: Nabokov Studies
Volume 12, 2009/2011
pp. 147-166 | 10.1353/nab.2009.0006



“Athletic Inspiration: Vladimir Nabokov and the Aesthetic Thrill of Sports” addresses Nabokov’s propensity for highlighting in his fiction, poetry, and other writings the theme of athletics and, in particular, the act of observing athletes in action. Expanding upon an early Berlin essay Nabokov wrote about boxing, competition, and sports spectatorship, this article focuses on the prominence of sports in Glory, Lolita, Pnin, and a number of poems, among other works.

Through literature, Nabokov celebrated the tendency for sports to stir the imagination and transform ordinary, physical reality into an active, joyful, and ultimately revelatory experience for athletes, spectators, and, it follows, writers and readers.

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