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Publication Date

Summer 2014

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


English and Comparative Literature


Paul Douglass


cinematic, Invitation to a Beheading, Poetics, Russian, visual, Vladimir Nabokov

Subject Areas

Literature; Film studies; Slavic literature


This thesis investigates the use of visual elements and stylistic devices in Vladimir Nabokov's early novel Invitation to a Beheading (1936) that foregrounds cinematic qualities of his fiction. The use of filmic devices and the narrative structure similar to that of a screenplay makes this novel suitable for adaptation to film. Besides that, this analysis looks at possible obstacles in adapting the novel to a film medium due to the inability to translate its complexity of style to film. Nabokov's brilliant technique as a writer and the versatility of his style allow the reader to visualize characters and settings and to create three-dimensional mental images, which make for interactive reader-writer relationships. Chapter One explores Nabokov's idea of a visual narrative and cinematic patterns in relation to certain methods of screenwriting. Chapter Two examines the role of visual poetics in characterization and delineates the concept of mediated perception, which is closely related to the questions of character creation. Chapter Three investigates how certain stylistic devices that function as elements of visual poetics produce a multi-sensory effect on the reader, establish reader-writer relationships, and fulfill the artistic purpose of Nabokov's prose.