‘To Breathe the Dust of This Painted Life’: Modes of Engaging the Senses in Vladimir Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading
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In this chapter, I explore the modes that engage sense perceptions of the reader in Invitation to a Beheading. Several scenes from this novel can be interpreted as representations of experiences of a heavily corporeal nature, such as fear and anxiety. Besides the author’s astonishing techniques of depicting ordinary and synaesthetic sense perceptions and his extraordinary vocabulary, the patterns of dynamic structures and mechanisms of human perception sometimes seem to structure and motivate the whole of his texts as well as the plots of his novels. My aim is to examine where sense perceptions are traceable in Nabokov’s prose and what can their function be in a narrative when it comes to the formulation of storyworlds and the production of meaning. I aim at further developing the dialog between cognitive theories and literary theory to better understand the complex relationship between the human consciousness and body, and literary narratives.
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