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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« 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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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).

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).


« 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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L’ouvrage Vladimir Nabokov et la France explore un espace de recherche vaste et peu balisé : l’invention de la France dans l’œuvre de Nabokov et l’étude interdisciplinaire de son héritage français. L’écrivain russo-américain a entretenu avec la langue et la culture françaises une relation riche et intense dont la complexité se dévoile dans ce volume, qui ouvre un nouveau champ dans les études nabokoviennes à la croisée de plusieurs disciplines (études américaines, comparées, françaises et slaves) et de plusieurs formations (linguistes, narratologues, philologues, traducteurs et artistes).

Par-delà les considérations biographiques, cet ouvrage met en lumière la nature des liens à double sens entre la culture française et l’œuvre de l’écrivain, à savoir la place du cadre géographique et culturel de la France dans son œuvre, celle des écrivains et textes français, son usage de la langue française, sa relation à la pensée française, et enfin sa postérité dans le paysage littéraire et artistique français. De manière significative, le choix du bilinguisme pour les articles publiés ici vise à dépasser la division linguistique de la critique nabokovienne en s’adressant aux lecteurs tant anglophones que francophones et, de manière plus profonde, à penser Nabokov dans les deux langues.

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Preface – The Haunted Enchanter
Brian Boyd

Yannicke Chupin, Agnès Edel-Roy, Monica Manolescu, Lara Delage-Toriel

I. L’Invention de la France et de l’Europe 
Michael Wood – Do you mind cutting out the French? Nabokov’s disinvention of Europe;
Julian W. Connolly – Fluid Spaces, Illusive Identities: Nabokov’s Depiction of France in the Late 1930s.

II. Intertextes français 
Susan Elizabeth Sweeney – Nabokov, Perrault, and Tales of Long Ago;
David Rampton – Allusions to French Literature in Nabokov’s Eugene Onegin: the Case of Voltaire;
Stanislav Shvabrin – Alfred de Musset, Vladimir Nabokov: The Invention of Exile;
Isabelle Poulin – Le vol de la mémoire. Vladimir Nabokov lecteur de Rimbaud et Mallarmé.

III. Langue française et modèles culturels français
Samuel Schuman – Monsieur Nabokov and Mademoiselle O;
Julie Loison-Charles – Les xénismes français dans Look at the Harlequins! : « ces clichés français sont-ils symptomatiques » ?;
Bénédicte Bintein – Le français, langue de la séduction fallacieuse dans l’œuvre de Vladimir Nabokov : une esthétique de l’ambiguïté;
Emily Eells – Proust, Nabokov and « the language of rainbows ».

IV. Nabokov et la pensée française
Leland de la Durantaye – Time in French, or Nabokov’s Mobile Image of Eternity;
Paul Grant – Blessing the Freak. Nabokov contra Bergson;
Lance Olsen – Not-Knowings: Debord’s Influence on Nabokov’s Real Life of Sebastian Knight.

V. Postérité de Nabokov et connivences contemporaines
Alisa Zhulina – Vladimir Nabokov and Alain Robbe-Grillet;
Alexia Gassin – Lolita, leitmotiv de l’œuvre de Serge Gainsbourg;
Anne-Marie Lafont – Apprendre autrement ou comment adapter Vladimir Nabokov au lycée.

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Los propósitos de este artículo son: i) analizar las relaciones de Vladimir Nabokov como autor multilingüe con la traducción al enfrentarse al exilio, y con la publicación de una de sus novelas en una lengua en que sabía escribir; ii) explorar las actitudes de Nabokov hacia la traducción en uno de sus libros, sus deseos de ser reconocido como autor y de pulir su estilo en la nueva lengua-cultura; iii) presentar factores como la identidad personal y cultural, y también las necesidades financieras de manera ligada al exilio y como elementos significativos en el proceso de traducción; iv) discutir el impacto de la reescritura en un autor alerta al reconocimiento internacional y en una búsqueda obvia  de nuevos valores estéticos. Nabokov no es un caso único, pero su situación y sus reacciones son suficientemente representativas de las dificultades que surgen al escribir en una lengua ajena.

The aims of this article are: i) to analyze the relations of Vladimir Nabokov as a multilingual author with translation when faced with exile and with the publication of one of his novels in a language in which he could write; ii) to explore Nabokov’s attitude towards the translation of one of his books, his desires to be recognized as an author and to polish his style in the new culturelanguage; iii) to present factors like personal and cultural identity, and also financial needs as linked to exile and as significant elements in the translating process; iv) to discuss the impact of rewriting in an author seeking international recognition and in an obvious quest for new aesthetic values. Nabokov is not a unique case, but his situation and reactions are quite representative of the difficulties raised when changing one’s language of composition.

« No marriage of a major twentieth-century writer is quite a51+5jsuCdCL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_s beguiling as that of Vladimir Nabokov’s to Véra Slonim. She shared his delight in life’s trifles and literature’s treasures, and he rated her as having the best and quickest sense of humor of any woman he had met. From their first encounter in 1923, Vladimir’s letters to Véra form a narrative arc that tells a half-century-long love story, one that is playful, romantic, pithy and memorable. At the same time, the letters tell us much about the man and the writer. We see the infectious fascination with which Vladimir observed everything—animals, people, speech, the landscapes and cityscapes he encountered—and learn of the poems, plays, stories, novels, memoirs, screenplays and translations on which he worked ceaselessly. This delicious volume contains twenty-one photographs, as well as facsimiles of the letters themselves and the puzzles and doodles Vladimir often sent to Véra. »

Le lundi 13 novembre 2017, Sophie Bernard-Léger a soutenu sa thèse de doctorat, intitulée « La création de soi par soi : origine, identités, transgressions dans l’oeuvre de Vladimir Nabokov, Romain Gary et Philip Roth ».

Le jury était composé de Luba Jurgenson (directrice, Sorbonne Université), Carole Matheron (co-directrice, Université Paris 3), Isabelle Poulin (présidente, Université Bordeaux Montaigne), Laure Troubetzkoy (Sorbonne Université), Philippe Zard (Université Paris Nanterre), Yves-Charles Grandjeat (Université Bordeaux Montaigne).

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« Data meets literature in this “enlightening” (The Wall Street Journal), “brilliant” (The Boston Globe), “Nate Silver-esque” (O, The Oprah Magazine) look at what the numbers have to say about our favorite authors and their masterpieces.

There’s a famous piece of writing advice—offered by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and myriad writers in between—not to use -ly adverbs like “quickly” or “angrily.” It sounds like solid advice, but can we actually test it? If we were to count all the -ly adverbs these authors used in their careers, do they follow their own advice? What’s more, do great books in general—the classics and the bestsellers—share this trait?

In the age of big data we can answer questions like these in the blink of an eye. In Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, a “literary detective story: fast-paced, thought-provoking, and intriguing” (Brian Christian, coauthor of Algorithms to Live By), statistician and journalist Ben Blatt explores the wealth of fun findings that can be discovered by using text and data analysis. He assembles a database of thousands of books and hundreds of millions of words, and then he asks the questions that have intrigued book lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? What makes a great opening sentence? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring?

All of Blatt’s investigations and experiments are original, conducted himself, and no math knowledge is needed to enjoy the book. On every page, there are new and eye-opening findings. By the end, you will have a newfound appreciation of your favorite authors and also come away with a fresh perspective on your own writing. “Blatt’s new book reveals surprising literary secrets” (Entertainment Weekly) and casts an x-ray through literature, allowing us to see both the patterns that hold it together and the brilliant flourishes that allow it to spring to life. »