Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

John Guzlowski


Vladimir Nabokov is often noted for his portrayal of controversial characters, isolated from the real world. These characters, known as Others, are shunned by society because of their socially unacceptable or inappropriate behavior. However, in order to understand fully the Other and his motives, readers must evaluate the Other's behavior within the context of his alternate existence, an isolated existence created in response to the threat common society imposes on his Self. Focusing on three of Nabokov's novels, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Lolita, and Pnin, this thesis examines the character of the Other through two approaches: a psychological approach, delineating the character's development as an Other with regards to psychotherapist R.D. Laing's theory outlined in The Divided Self, and supported by a technical approach, detailing the narrative strategies--especially in terms of frameworks--Nabokov employs to further his presentation of the Other. These two approaches work from an existential basis, evaluating the other in terms of a "being-in-his-own-world" existence. Much of what Nabokov does, as revealed by these two approaches, places his works within the postmodern movement in literature. Overall, the effect Nabokov achieves in these novels is a presentation of the ontological insecurity of the Others and a shift in the ontological security of the readers.