Stanislav Shvabrin/Станислав Швабрин (SFVN), Between Rhyme and Reason: Vladimir Nabokov, Translation, and Dialogue, University of Toronto, U Toronto Press, 2019.

The author of such global bestsellers as Lolita and Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) is also one of the most controversial literary translators and translation theorists of modern time. In Between Rhyme and Reason, Stanislav Shvabrin discloses the complexity, nuance, and contradictions behind Nabokov’s theory and practice of literalism to reveal how and why translation came to matter to Nabokov so much.

Drawing on familiar as well as unknown materials, Shvabrin traces the surprising and largely unknown trajectory of Nabokov’s lifelong fascination with translation to demonstrate that, for Nabokov, translation was a form of intellectual communion with his peers across no fewer than six languages. Empowered by Mikhail Bakhtin’s insights into the interactive roots of literary creativity, Shvabrin’s interpretative chronicle of Nabokov’s involvement with translation shows how his dialogic encounters with others in the medium of translation left verbal vestiges on his own creations. Refusing to regard translation as a form of individual expression, Nabokov translated to communicate with his interlocutors, whose words and images continue to reverberate throughout his allusion-rich texts.

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Marjorie Worthington, The Story of » Me »: Contemporary American Autofiction, « Masculinity, Whiteness, and Postmodern Self- Consciousness: Vladimir Nabokov, John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut, and Richard Powers », University of Nebraska Press, Frontiers of Narrative Series, 2018.

Autofiction, or works in which the eponymous author appears as a fictionalized character, represents a significant trend in postwar American literature, when it proliferated to become a kind of postmodern cliché. The Story of “Me”charts the history and development of this genre, analyzing its narratological effects and discussing its cultural implications. By tracing autofiction’s conceptual issues through case studies and an array of texts, Marjorie Worthington sheds light on a number of issues for postwar American writing: the maleness of the postmodern canon—and anxieties created by the supposed waning of male privilege—the relationship between celebrity and authorship, the influence of theory, the angst stemming from claims of the “death of the author,” and the rise of memoir culture.

Worthington constructs and contextualizes a bridge between the French literary context, from which the term originated, and the rise of autofiction among various American literary movements, from modernism to New Criticism to New Journalism. The Story of “Me” demonstrates that the burgeoning of autofiction serves as a barometer of American literature, from modernist authorial effacement to postmodern literary self-consciousness.

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Monica Manolescu, Cartographies of New York and Other Postwar American Cities. Art, Literature and Urban Spaces, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.


Cartographies of New York and Other Postwar American Cities: Art, Literature and Urban Spaces explores phenomena of urban mapping in the discourses and strategies of a variety of postwar artists and practitioners of space: Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, Vito Acconci, Gordon Matta-Clark, Robert Smithson, Rebecca Solnit, Matthew Buckingham, contemporary Situationist projects. The distinctive approach of the book highlights the interplay between texts and site-oriented practices, which have often been treated separately in critical discussions. Monica Manolescu considers spatial investigations that engage with the historical and social conditions of the urban environment and reflect on its mediated nature, reading cartographic procedures that involve walking and surveying as subversive possibilities of representing and navigating the postwar American city. The book posits mapping as a critical nexus that opens up new ways of studying some of the most important postwar artistic engagements with New York and other American cities.
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Sabine Faye/Сабин Фай (SFVN), Nabokov. Le Jeu baroque, CNRS Éditions, 2019.


Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), l’auteur célèbre des romans Lolita et Ada, est un écrivain aux multiples facettes. Imprégné de culture classique, passant d’une langue à l’autre, d’un pays à l’autre, il se démarque de ses contemporains et crée une oeuvre jubilatoire qui joue avec les codes et les conventions littéraires.
Les habitudes de perception du lecteur sont constamment mises en question : une telle indétermination favorise les jeux d’illusions et les dédoublements caractéristiques de l’esthétique baroque. Le masque et le miroir sont les instruments privilégiés de cette écriture poétique.
C’est cet univers en perpétuelle métamorphose, où se mêlent mise en abyme du récit, rêves et trompe-l’oeil, qui nous est présenté en détail dans cet ouvrage.

Sabine Faye est maître de conférences au département d’anglais de l’université Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle où elle enseigne la littérature, la peinture et le cinéma anglo-américains.

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Jacqueline Hamrit/Жаклин Aмрит (SFVN), Frontières et limites dans l’oeuvre de Vladimir Nabokov, Éditions universitaires européennes, 2019.

Grâce à l’analyse de la conférence «The Art of Literature and Commonsense» conçue en 1941 et publiée à titre posthume en 1980, j’essaie d’identifier les caractéristiques de l’esthétique de Nabokov–fondée sur l’attention au détail et à l’émerveillement-, son éthique–marquée par l’importa

nce accordée à l’autre et la création de différences–et enfin sa métaphysique qui, contrairement à ce qu’affirment Richard Rorty et Vladimir Alexandrov croyant déceler la présence de platonisme et de transcendance dans sa philosophie, se caractérise par la contamination entre les oppositions que sont l’ici-bas et l’au-delà, la vie et la mort, ou la «réalité» et la fiction. La frontière qui sépare ces oppositions est, en effet, instable et fluctuante. J’étudie ensuite les préfaces «authentiques» jointes à Lolita, Bend Sinister, et Speak, Memory ainsi que les introductions écrites par Nabokov lors de la publication des traductions anglaises de ses romans russes à travers la problématique de l’Auteur, celle du genre et celle du temps. Je considère que Nabokov a utilisé les préfaces pour théoriser sur la littérature, prolonger son autobiographie et déconstruire l’opposition entre fiction et non-fiction.

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Azar Nafisi/Азар Нафизи, That other World: Nabokov and the Puzzle of Exile, transl. from the Persian by Loftali Khonji, Yale University Press, 2019.

The foundational text for the acclaimed New York Times and international best seller Reading Lolita in Tehran

The ruler of a totalitarian state seeks validation from a former schoolmate, now the nation’s foremost thinker, in order to access a cultural cache alien to his regime. A literary critic provides commentary on an unfinished poem that both foretells the poet’s death and announces the critic’s secret identity as the king of a lost country. The greatest of Vladimir Nabokov’s enchanters—Humbert—is lost within the antithesis of a fairy story, in which Lolita does not hold the key to his past but rather imprisons him within the knowledge of his distance from that past.

In this precursor to her international best seller Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi deftly explores the worlds apparently lost to Nabokov’s characters, their portals of access to those worlds, and how other worlds hold a mirror to Nabokov’s experiences of physical, linguistic, and recollective exile. Written before Nafisi left the Islamic Republic of Iran, and now published in English for the first time and with a new introduction by the author, this book evokes the reader’s quintessential journey of discovery and reveals what caused Nabokov to distinctively shape and reshape that journey for the author.

Azar Nafisi has taught at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, Allameh Tabatabi, and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. She is the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, as well as Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories of a Prodigal Daughter and The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books.

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David M. Bethea and Siggy Frank (Eds), Vladimir Nabokov in Context, Cambridge University Press, 2018.

« Vladimir Nabokov, bilingual writer of dazzling masterpieces, is a phenomenon that both resists and requires contextualization. This book challenges the myth of Nabokov as a sole genius who worked in isolation from his surroundings, as it seeks to anchor his work firmly within the historical, cultural, intellectual and political contexts of the turbulent twentieth century. Vladimir Nabokov in Context maps the ever-changing sites, people, cultures and ideologies of his itinerant life which shaped the production and reception of his work. Concise and lively essays by leading scholars reveal a complex relationship of mutual influence between Nabokov’s work and his environment. Appealing to a wide community of literary scholars this timely companion to Nabokov’s writing offers new insights and approaches to one of the most important, and yet most elusive writers of modern literature. »

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Soutenance de thèse – Léopold Reigner

Le 30 novembre 2018, à l’Université de Rouen, Léopold Reigner a soutenu sa thèse de doctorat, intitulé « Le Flaubert de Nabokov : interprétation, continuité et originalité ».

Le jury était composé de Yannicke Chupin (Université de Cergy-Pontoise), Florence Godeau (Université Jean Moulin-Lyon III), Yvan Leclerc (Université de Rouen), Monica Manolescu (Université de Strasbourg), Isabelle Poulin  (présidente, Université Bordeaux Montaigne), Anne-Laure Tissut (directrice, Université de Rouen).

Soutenance de thèse – Agnès Edel-Roy

Le 19 novembre 2018, à l’Université de Paris-Est Créteil, Agnès Edel-Roy a soutenu sa thèse de doctorat de littérature comparée, intitulée « Une “démocratie magique” : politique et littérature dans les romans de Vladimir Nabokov ».

Le jury était composé de Vincent Ferré (directeur, Université de Paris-Est Créteil), Luba Jurgenson (Université Paris-Sorbonne), Jean-Pierre Morel (président, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3), Isabelle Poulin (Université Bordeaux Montaigne) et Yolaine Parisot (Université de Paris-Est Créteil).


Priscilla Meyer, Nabokov and Indeterminacy. The Case of The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, NorthWestern University Press, 2018.

« In Nabokov and Indeterminacy, Priscilla Meyer shows how Vladimir Nabokov’s early novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight illuminates his later work. Meyer first focuses on Sebastian Knight, exploring how Nabokov associates his characters with systems of subtextual references to Russian, British, and American literary and philosophical works. She then turns to Lolita and Pale Fire, applying these insights to show that these later novels clearly differentiate the characters through subtextual references, and that Sebastian Knight’s construction models that of Pale Fire.

Meyer argues that the dialogue Nabokov constructs among subtexts explores his central concern: the continued existence of the spirit beyond bodily death. She suggests that because Nabokov’s art was a quest for an unattainable knowledge of the otherworldly, knowledge which can never be conclusive, Nabokov’s novels are never closed in plot, theme, or resolution—they take as their hidden theme the unfinalizability that Bakhtin says characterizes all novels.

The conclusions of Nabokov’s novels demand a rereading, and each rereading yields a different novel. The reader can never get back to the same beginning, never attain a conclusion, and instead becomes an adept of Nabokov’s quest. Meyer emphasizes that, unlike much postmodern fiction, the contradictions created by Nabokov’s multiple paths do not imply that existence is constructed arbitrarily of pre-existing fragments, but rather that these fragments lead to an ever-deepening approach to the unknowable. »

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