Nabokov as Pozdnyshev: The Kreutzer Sonata on Trial Talk by Erica Drennan (Barnard College)



Amherst College (College street, Amherst, MA 01002)

In 1926 in Berlin, Vladimir Nabokov played Pozdnyshev in a mock trial version of Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata. The literary trial was part of a larger craze for mock trials in Soviet Russia and émigré communities in the 1920s and 1930s. In this talk, I read Nabokov’s mock trial speech as a bridge between Tolstoy’s novella and Lolita. I argue that Nabokov’s reinterpretation of Pozdnyshev offers a model for reading both The Kreutzer Sonata and Lolita against their protagonists.