This project examines Vladimir Nabokov's 1962 novel, Pale Fire, and Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel, Midnight's Children, in conjunction with literary and political theorists including Mikhail Bahktin, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, and Achille Mbembe. Using Bahktin's assertion that the novel is "necessary incomplete," I examine how the authors' uses of irony and framing seeks but ultimately fails to achieve a complete, enduring representation of selves. By analyzing how this failure leads to the application of sovereign power - even its violent extreme, "necropower" - I argue that the novels revise the unified, teleological narrative structures of Bahktin and Benjamen. While not dismissing or attempting to transcend the problems of authorship, sovereignty, and teleological histories, the novels present them as questions which must always be reassessed.
Ferut, Michael, "The Limits of Self and Sovereign: Performing Failure in Nabokov's Pale Fire and Rushdie's Midnight Children" (2012). Honors Projects. Paper 23.
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