Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Mark Leiderman

Second Advisor

Warren Motte

Third Advisor

Karen Jacobs


By tracing the functions of metafictional devices in Lolita, this thesis examines how the novel questions the moral goodness of art in the post-Holocaust world. The devices of parody, mise en abyme, metalepsis and appeals to the creative chronotope lay bare the processes of reading, writing, and world-construction. Consequently, the text becomes self-critical and inculpates the audience in Lolita's suffering through a performance that critiques the discourse of morality. This metafictional performance leaves a moral gap in the text that must be filled by the reader. Resultantly, morality in Lolita appears as a Levinasian process of reading - reading as a challenging, dialogic encounter with an Other which discovers the limits of transgression. Morality, though malleable, is not infinitely flexible: its one limit is the suffering of the Other. Lolita, then, serves as a critique not only of modernist life-construction and moral discourse, but also of modern forms of violence.