Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements for Ada by Vladimir Nabokov that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “Ada or Ardor : A Family Chronicle” by Vladimir Nabokov and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of Ada by Nabokov in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot of “Ada or Ardor” by Vladimir Nabokov or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Ada by Nabokov at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 : The Critical Importance of Setting in “Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov
Just as in the case with a novel like “Gulliver’s Travels" for instance, which is a rather severe, if not often hilarious criticism of Swift’s government and society, “Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov could not achieve its statements about society and perhaps, more importantly, literature, without taking place in a land that is vaguely recognizable on the surface, but on closer examination, drastically different than the one we know. By removing the reader from the laws, customs, and moral principles, especially in regards to sexual behavior and what is considered deviant, that are familiar and acceptable, Nabokov is able to explore different possibilities through use of an overtly fictional setting. There would be no way to so frankly and explicitly talk about the sexual issues present or reconcile the behaviors of almost any of the characters if it were to take place in the “real" world, thus the meaning of “Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov, which is simultaneously concerned with a witty criticism of society and literature in particular, would be lost as reader was lost in wondering about illegal activity and how it would be punished. Without taking place in its own world with its own laws and sexual customs that defined acceptability, “Ada or Ardor" would be condemned as pornography in a far more legitimate way than his other sensational novel, “Lolita" ever was.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2 : The Literary Effect of Moral Repugnancy in “Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov
Although the novel “Ada" is set in a fictitious place where the customs and laws are rearranged to suit the unique lack of morality as we know it in our reality, this still does not allow the reader to be comfortable with the excessive deviant sexual behaviors of nearly every character the reader encounters in the novel. The explicit passages are guaranteed to make readers widen their eyes but often more so due to the situations that are present as opposed to the graphic details they offer. The constant moral repugnancy and overt deviant sexual behavior both mock the literary tradition a novel like this is based on and also systematically force the reader to see elements of these behaviors in other literary forms, without the explicit text or adult situations. For this essay, reflect on what purpose the graphic nature of “Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov serves and how it may be used to destroy the concept of the relatively stiff literature that it is modeled upon, most notably that of the Victorian era in American literature and Russian literature of the latter half of the 20th century and into the subsequent one. This is a challenging essay on “Ada or Ardor" and reserved for students of Russian or Victorian literature primarily. The point is to examine how this is a parody of other literary genres in terms of the concept of sex and romance, most notably.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3 : The Question of Genre in “Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov
As suggested previously, this novel is something of a mockery or parody, some would even suggest a satire of other literary traditions, especially those of the Russian variety with the long convoluted family histories and identifiably Russian literature inspired characters. Being such, it combines and thus comments on some of the themes and structures present in various other works of literature and has no real genre distinction that can be universally agreed upon. For this essay on “Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov, there are a number of directions you could take. For instance, you could question how this fits into the genres of fiction representing a utopia or dystopia, how it is a convoluted romance novel, how it is aligned with Russian literature more generally in terms of structure, or rather easily, you could choose the easy road and just call this porn. Part of the brilliance of this underrated novel is how it can be defined by many genres simultaneously while poking fun at them at the same time.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 : Is “Ada or Ardor : A Family Chronicle" by Vladimir Nabokov Appropriate for High School or College Classrooms?
This thesis statement for “Ada" by Vladimir Nabokov is more theoretical and based on the idea that it makes a good essay topic for an argumentative essay. The short answer to the question about the nature of being appropriate for a high school is quite simply, no. Heavens, no. And this is coming from a literary nut who is hugely opposed to censorship in schools. The fact is, high school readers are not equipped enough, especially in terms of understanding this as a novel that is just as much about literature and the canon as it is about other things, to read this in the right way (i.e. not as pornography or a pornographic tale with lesbians, pedophile behaviors, prostitution, etc). I would also suggest that Nabokov’s “Ada or Ardor" is not an appropriate book for general readers in college-level Russian literature classes and should only be reserved for graduate students or higher-level students of Russian or American literature who have a solid understanding of the literary parody that is taking place. It is graphic, but without putting the graphic nature of the novel in literary context, it cannot be read properly and might just come across as vulgar and pointless. This is just one opinion and an entire book could be written on this question. It is, nonetheless, an important idea to consider and can be paired with “Lolita" which is often read in high school and college classrooms, as it should be. For that matter then, what makes “Lolita" acceptable and “Ada or Ardor" not so? Look to the concept of context for the answer.
This list of important quotations from “Ada or Ardor : A Family Chronicle” by Vladimir Nabokov will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Ada listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for Ada or Ardor by Nabokov above, these quotes alone with page numbers can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way.
“A former viceroy of Estoty, Prince Ivan Temnosiniy, father of the children’s great-great-grandmother, Princess Sofia Zemski )1755-1809) and a direct descendant of the Yaroslav rulers of the pre-Tartar times, had a millennium-old name that mean in Russian ‘dark blue’" (1.i)
(of Demon and his then-actress Maria) “In the first of these [scenes] she had undressed in a graceful silhouette behind a semitransparent screen, reappeared in a flimsy and fetching nightgown, and spent the rest of the wretched scene discussing a local squire, Baron d’O, with an old nurse in Eskimo boots" (1.ii).
“Of course, today, after the great anti-L years of reactionary delusion have gone by (more or less!) and our sleek little machines, Faragod bless them, hum again after a fashion, as they did in the first half of the nineteenth century, the mere geo-aspect of the affair possesses its redeeming comic side, like those patterns of brass marquetrym and bric-a-Braques, and the ormolu horrors that mean ‘art’ to our humorless forefathers" (1.iii).
(Of Mrs. Tapirov in the memory of Van)… she “was French but spoke English with a Russian accent, had a short of objects d’art and more or less antique furniture" (1.v).
“Ada’s letters breathed, writhed, lived; Van’s Letters from Terra “a philosophical novel" showed no sign of life whatsoever" (2.ii). (consider this in terms of genre and the epistolary form)
Instead of page numbers for these quotes from “Ada or Ardor A Family Chronicle" these references come from the wonderful free full text of “Ada or Ardor" with annotations from the University of Auckland found HERE