Une lecture n’engage à rien : ni au retour, ni à la connaissance durable, ni même à la certitude d’aimer. Que nous ayons poursuivi nos lectures avec minutie ou obsession, dans le cadre de la recherche, de l’enseignement, ou de la prose journalistique, nous avons pourtant gardé le souvenir de nos découvertes de l’œuvre de Vladimir Nabokov. Professeur de littérature, Nabokov disait à ses étudiants : «  On ne peut pas lire un livre, on ne peut que le relire. Un bon lecteur, un lecteur actif et créateur est un re-lecteur. » Selon lui, ce lecteur « actif et créateur » ne peut réellement prêter attention au style littéraire que lorsqu’il a déjà une idée de la structure d’ensemble du roman. L’attention au détail, objectif primordial de la lecture, selon lui, nécessite la connaissance préalable du tout. Il n’en reste pas moins qu’une première lecture d’un roman aimé est un événement inoubliable, ce que Nabokov n’aurait su contredire. Une première lecture, parce qu’elle précède logiquement l’espoir ou même l’instinct de la relecture et de la recherche, est un moment privilégié, déroutant : un dialogue instinctif qu’aucune relecture ne saurait recréer. C’est d’ailleurs le secret des pédants et des érudits qui peuplent l’œuvre nabokovienne: rien ne surpasse tout à fait la curiosité de l’innocence, les émotions fragiles d’une toute première rencontre. Nous invitons nos collègues, nos amis et le plus grand nombre de curieux à se replonger dans l’émotion de leur première lecture d’un texte de Vladimir Nabokov et à nous en faire partager, dans leurs mots à eux, la particularité d’une aventure personnelle.

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mikolagyongyi Gyöngyi Mikola est doctorante au département d’Etudes Russes de l’Université de Szeged, en Hongrie, et également critique littéraire et essayiste indépendante. Elle a publié trois collections d’essais sur la littérature contemporaine hongroise. Le titre de sa thèse est « Récits de désir dans les romans russes de Nabokov ». Elle s’est intéressée à Nabokov quand elle était une jeune élève, après la lecture de la merveilleuse nouvelle « Premier amour » dans un périodique littéraire plus ou moins dissident. C’était en 1986, quand Nabokov était encore un auteur interdit en Hongrie. Son but n’est pas seulement de devenir une spécialiste de Nabokov au niveau universitaire, mais aussi de permettre aux lecteurs hongrois de mieux connaître le génie littéraire, la singuliarité et l’indépendance d’esprit du grand écrivain russo-américain.
Gyöngyi Mikola is a PhD student at the Russian Studies Department of the University of Szeged, Hungary, and a freelance literary critic and essayist as well. She has published three books of essays on the contemporary Hungarian literature. The title of her PhD thesis is “Narratives of Desire in Nabokov’s Russian novels”. She has become interested in Nabokov as a student, when she read the wonderful short story of Nabokov entitled “First Love » in a half-samizdat literary periodical. It happened in 1986 when Nabokov was still a banned author in Hungary. Her aim is not only professional research on Nabokov but she would also like to have Hungarian readers become more familiar with the literary genius, uniqueness and free spirit of the great Russian-American writer. 

Articles

Red Admirable (in: Mikola Gyöngyi: A véső nyoma, Kijárat Kiadó, Budapest. 2010., 245-249..p.) (An essay on Nabokov’s Pale Fire)

Árnyék a szív mögött (Nabokov szerelem-fölfogásáról és az olvasás szenvedélyéről) (in: Mikola Gyöngyi: A véső nyoma, 250-260 .p. ) – (A Shadow behind the Heart  – Notes on Nabokov’s conception of love and the passion of reading)

Titkos fordulópont (A szerelem transzcendenciája Nabokov Másenyka című regényében) (in: Lábjegyzetek Platónhoz 11., A szerelem,  edited by Sándor Laczkó, Szeged, 2013.  145-153. p.) – (The Secret Turn – The transcendency of love in Nabokov’s Mary)

„Mint a víz Opheliának” (Az esztétikai percepció kérdése Nabokov Meghívás kivégzésre és Adomány című regényeiben) (in: Jelenkor, 2014/10. 1106-1115. p.)- (“As water to Ophelia” The issue of aesthetic perception in Nabokov’s novels Invitation to a Beheading and The Gift)

« Whereas lit0157759_authorship-in-nabokovs-prefaces_300erary criticism has mainly oscillated between “the death of the author” (Barthes) and “the return of the author” (Couturier), this work suggests another perspective on authorship through an analysis of Nabokov’s prefaces. It is here argued that the author, being neither dead nor tyrannical, alternates between authoritative apparitions and receding disappearances in the double gesture of mastery without mastery which Derrida calls ‘exappropriation’, that is, a simultaneous attempt to appropriate one’s work, control it, have it under one’s power and expropriate it, losing control by loosening one’s grip. The intention of this is to approach, through one’s experience of reading and interpreting, the experience of self-effacement and impersonality pertaining to writing (cf. Blanchot). Prefaces are considered to be suitable places for the deconstruction of the classical image of Nabokov’s arrogance through the unearthing of his reserve and vulnerability. This work provides an account of the mere intuition (which, therefore, does not pretend to be a conclusive and definitive interpretation) of another image of Nabokov whose undeniable talent for deception seems in accordance with a need for discretion and secrecy. »

Sommaire : Préface par Philippe Chardin. Introduction par Alexia Gassin et John Pier
I – Effacements narratifs
René Alladaye : « Et le sujet du roman ? Il n’en a pas. » Itinéraires d’effacement, de « Lolita » à « Laura »
John Pier : « The Original of Laura » : les textes du roman
II – Effacements auctoriaux
Alexia Gassin : Polémique autour de deux publications ou l’éthique rudoyée
Jacqueline Hamrit : La naissance du texte : lire et voir « The Original of Laura » grâce à la critique génétique française
III – Effacements fatals
Yannicke Chupin : Mourir à temps dans « The Original of Laura » et « Lolita »
Chloé Deroy : Charlotte Haze/Philip Wild : de la non-sexualité des ventripotents

« Nabokov gained international fame with Lolita, a highly erotic and morally disturbing novel. Through its comprehensive study of the amorous and sexual behaviors of Nabokov’s characters this book shows how Eros, both as a clown or a pervert, contributes to the poetic excellence of his novels and accounts for the unfolding of the plots. »

Udith DEMATAGODA
University of Glasgow
Thesis Title: ‘The Loathsome Tint of Social Intent: Ideology and Aesthetics in the works of Vladimir Nabokov’
Enrolment year: 2010
Projected year of completion: 2014
Supervisors: Professor Laurence Davies, Dr. John Coyle, Dr. Andrei Rogatchevski 

 

Ideology, Epistemology, and the ‘Modernism of Underdevelopment’ in The Eye and Despair

Within past and recent criticism, it is a widely held assumption that Nabokov should be regarded as a direct descendant of the Russian Symbolist tradition. It is a critical assumption which ascribes to Nabokov an epistemology which has its roots in the transcendence of everyday reality, a metaphysical Idealism which, though ostensibly camouflaged, is purported to be consistent throughout the Nabokovian corpus and, perhaps most significantly, a very distinct historical subjectivity. With the publication of Vladimir Alexandrov’s Otherworld, this burgeoning critical tendency became ubiquitous, and continues to be the subject of varied research. Yet there are two important aspects of this assumption which have heretofore been overlooked and remain problematic; primarily whether such an assumption is entirely justified, and secondly the nature of its ideological significance. The often acerbic opposition of Symbolism and Formalism in early twentieth century Russian literature was tainted by class politics; it was, in essence, as equally ideological as it was aesthetic.

As John Burt Foster has proposed, behind the Nabokovian aesthetic there is a tension, an ‘almost paradoxical juxtaposition- the modernist urge to “make it new” recoiling into the past to become an art of personal memory.’[1]It is the contention of my thesis that his work of the émigré period up to and including The Gift involves a series of aesthetic vacillations and evolutions which were influenced by his engagement with a changing political and ideological landscape. Furthermore, these aesthetic developments also derive from an attempted negotiation between two contrasting strands of the Russian ‘Modernism of Underdevelopment’[2]- Symbolism and Formalism. In my paper, I shall attempt to illustrate how this negotiation manifests itself in two works written within two years of each other, the short novella The Eye (1930) and Despair (1932).

 

Bio: Udith Dematagoda graduated in 2008 with a MA (hons) in Comparative Literature and Slavonic Studies from The University of Glasgow, before taking a Masters degree in English from The University of Manchester in 2009. She completed a intensive diploma in Russian language at Glasgow, before embarking on her PhD research on Vladimir Nabokov in 2010. She has taught at the University of Glasgow from 2010-2012, and currently teach at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis as a Lecteur d’anglais. She has published on Vladimir Nabokov in publications such as the Slavonic and East European Review (SEER) and The Nabokov Online Journal (NOJ). She has presented papers at various universities in the UK and at Nabokov Readings conference at The St. Petersburg State University’s Vladimir Nabokov museum in Russia. She spent the summer of 2013 in New York conducting research at The Berg Collection of Modernist English and American Literature at The New York Public Library.

 



[1] John Burt Foster Jr, Nabokov’s Art of Memory and European Modernism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993) p.23. Further references given in parenthesis.
[2] Marshall Berman, All that is Solid Melts into Air (New York: Penguin, 1982), p.175.

FR / EN

“A Guide to Berlin”

An exhibition by Maria and Natalia Petschatnikov (Germany)

inspired by Nabokov’s story « A Guide to Berlin »
a guide to berlin1

The exhibition was shown  from July 5 till July 29, 2013 at the Vladimir Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg.

It will be shown in the « salle Europe » at the MISHA in Strasbourg, France in the Spring 2014.

Salle Europe (ground floor MISHA)             April 29, 30, &  May 2, 5, 6 2014.      8h-19h.

MISHA (Maison Interuniversitaire des Sciences de l’Homme – Alsace)
Campus Esplanade
5 allée du Général Rouvillois, Strasbourg, France

Tram stop: OBSERVATOIRE

 “In Maria and Natalia Petschatnikov’s installation A Guide to Berlin, what at first appears to be a strikingly visual collage of heterogeneous motifs from a street scene—with trams, graffiti, pigeons, and the like—turns out to be also an exploration of the destabilizing effects of exile and loss. Taking their cue from their fellow Russian Vladimir Nabokov’s short text “A Guide to Berlin” from 1925, which playfully bypasses grandiose tourist sites in favor of icons of the humble and everyday—trams, pubs, street pipes—the artists create a reconfigurable installation that both pays homage to Nabokov’s icons and builds a new vocabulary of neglected markers of Berlin’s present. Nabokov, who lived in Berlin from 1922 to 1937 and wrote all his Russian novels here, was an “outsider” who paid attention to Berlin’s real “insiders”— things and places that are mostly overlooked. He might even be a passenger on one of the two large trams entering the exhibition space of A Guide to Berlin, which manage to seem friendly and ominous at the same time. The Petschatnikovs’ trams, wending their way out of the past and headed into an unknown future, remind us that we are all, natives and exiles alike, only in transit through this life. But their most brilliant—and Nabokovian—gesture is that the entire installation is a trompe l’oeil: the images, which appear to be drawn on the wall in charcoal, are actually made of tulle, sewn into large pieces that can be hung in various ensembles with more or less visual coherence depending on the site, thus subtly referencing the exile’s necessarily provisional relationship to his or her environment. In linking their tenancy as Russians in Berlin to their Petersburgian predecessor’s, the Petschatnikovs’ masterful delivery of visual delight invests ephemera with the eternal and asks us to reconsider our relationship to the world we encounter around us every day.” 

Donna Stonecipher
American poet, author of The Cosmopolitan among others. She lives in Berlin.

« A Guide to Berlin » exhibition by Maria and Natalia Petchatnikov transformed the first floor of the Nabokov House for a few summer weeks.  Tenderness towards the world around, the ability to appreciate and not take its beauty for granted is one of the prevailing themes of Nabokov’s poetry and prose of the 1920s. «Perceive the delicate rotation of the slightly tilted earth» – wrote Nabokov in “The University Poem”  (translated by Dmitri Nabokov). The short story « A Guide to Berlin » was written in those years, too. The artists did not attempt to create an authentic reconstruction of the Berlin of  Nabokov’s time but instead they recovered that intonation by visual means. Pigeons in a Berlin street, an approaching tram, graffiti on an invisible wall – the urban environment unfold around us is filled with Nabokov’s poetics. The exhibition lets the visitor to see contemporary Berlin through the eyes of a Nabokov’s literary character – a challenging task which the artists fully accomplished, in my opinion.
I very much hope that Maria and Natalia will be able to do further projects on Nabokov’s theme, all the more so since fate is guiding them to the most Nabokovian places of the world – St.Petersburg, the USA, France, Berlin – as if rearranging the same index cards that made up Nabokov’s text.

Tatiana Ponomareva
Director
Nabokov Museum, St. Petersburg