A Portrait of “Literary Malice” », The Atlantic, December 2016.


« The dazzling correspondence between Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson, two giants of 20th-century letters who met in 1940 and kept in close touch through the 1950s, is legendary. Less well known is their falling-out, triggered by, of all things, a Pushkin translation: In 1965, in The New York Review of Books, Wilson called Nabokov’s version of Eugene Onegin “disastrous.” When Alex Beam, a columnist for The Boston Globe, recently learned about the feud, he “burst out laughing.” How could such men be so silly?

His probing has produced a concise portrait of “literary malice,” which he notes was a specialty taught by a favorite secondary-school teacher of Nabokov’s. It is also contagious, as Beam demonstrates. His acerbic account of even the “beautiful friendship” phase isn’t flattering. The multilingual one-upmanship, the barbed assessments of each other’s work: Why, you’ll wonder, did the two enjoy spending time together?

Beam’s caustic treatment of the “seven-plus years of malicious rhetoric” that ensued after Wilson’s review is mercifully brief. If all the hifalutin nastiness is enough to leave a bitter taste, it also inspires an intense urge: to return to the books that show both writers at their best. »

491517950c7628b6b834b9f714e6f92b« The book contains 148 of Nabokov’s scientific drawings with detailed explanatory captions by (mostly) Kurt, and six reproductions of VN’s inscription drawings to Véra, along with essays by several scientists and Nabokov specialists who have written about or built upon Nabokov’s lepidoptery. The drawings are nearly all reproduced at their full size (4×6 inches), and all are at very high resolution. 62 of the plates are in color. Table of Contents attached. Teaser: Robert Dirig determines the real imaginary location of New Wye in Pale Fire. »

« A volume that Susan Elizabeth Sweeney co-edited with Michael Rodgers, Nabokov and the Question of Morality: Aesthetics, Metaphysics, and the Ethics of Fiction, has just come out from Palgrave Macmillan. It addresses the vexing issue of Nabokov’s moral stances, arguing that he designed his works as open-ended ethical problems–concerning good or bad reading, God’s existence, the nature of evil, agency and altruism, and the ethics of representing sex, punishment, and suffering, among other topics–for readers to confront. The volume includes essays by Gennady Barabtarlo, Julian Connolly, Leland de la Durantaye, Jacqueline Hamrit, Elspeth Jajdelska, Laurence Piercy, David Rampton, Michael Rodgers, Samuel Schuman, Susan Elizabeth Sweeney, Tom Whalen, and Michael Wood.
Dana Draguniou calls the book « A tremendous achievement . . . Fyodor, the protagonist of Nabokov’s Russian magnum opus The Gift, notes that reading Pushkin is like having the capacity of one’s lungs expanded; reading these essays offers a similarly bracing experience. » Thomas Karshan praises it for treating « Nabokov’s eerie and insistent moral simplicity as a question and a puzzle, extending his ethical intricacy well into » many new topics for critical exploration. »


L-oeuvre-de-Vladimir-Nabokov-au-regard-de-la-culture-et-de-l-art-allemands« Jusqu’à présent, les études nabokoviennes ont tendance à ignorer l’influence de la culture allemande sur l’œuvre de Vladimir Nabokov. Ce faisant, elles se conforment aux propos de l’écrivain qui a fréquemment déclaré que, malgré ses quinze années passées en Allemagne (1922–1937), il a toujours évité tout contact avec la langue et l’univers allemands. Pourtant, bien que l’émigration russe à Berlin vive en vase clos, les frontières entre les mondes russe et allemand ne sont pas si étanches, ce qui apparaît nettement dans les fréquentes allusions littéraires de l’écrivain à des œuvres de littérature, de cinéma et de peinture allemandes.Le présent ouvrage a donc pour objectif de lire l’œuvre de Nabokov dans le contexte de l’art allemand de la fin du XIXe et du début du XXe siècle, notamment de l’esthétique expressionniste et de trois de ses grands thèmes majeurs, à savoir l’altération du psychisme humain, l’ambivalence de la figure féminine et la représentation de la grande ville. Il vise ainsi à proposer une nouvelle interprétation des œuvres russes de Nabokov, à reconstruire le contexte culturel berlinois (cinéma et peinture) dans lequel ces dernières furent créées et à montrer que l’écrivain n’était pas si hermétique à la culture allemande qu’il voulait bien le laisser entendre. »

« The author of the immortal Lolita and Pale Fire, born to an eminent Russian family, conjures the apotheosis of the high modernist artist: cultured, refined-as European as they come. But Vladimir Nabokov, who came to America fleeing the Nazis, came to think of his time here as the richest of his life. Indeed, Nabokov was not only happiest here, but his best work flowed from his response to this exotic land.

Robert Roper fills out this period in the writer’s life with charm and insight–covering Nabokov’s critical friendship with Edmund Wilson, his time at Cornell, his role at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. But Nabokov in America finds its narrative heart in his serial sojourns into the wilds of the West, undertaken with his wife, Vera, and their son over more than a decade. Nabokov covered more than 200,000 miles as he indulged his other passion: butterfly collecting. Roper has mined fresh sources to bring detail to these journeys, and traces their significant influence in Nabokov’s work: on two-lane highways and in late-’40s motels and cafés, we feel Lolita draw near, and understand Nabokov’s seductive familiarity with the American mundane. Nabokov in America is also a love letter to U.S. literature, in Nabokov’s broad embrace of it from Melville to the Beats. Reading Roper, we feel anew the mountain breezes and the miles logged, the rich learning and the Romantic mind behind some of Nabokov’s most beloved books. »

« Enfant, elle118817_couverture_Hres_0 grandit entre sa grand-mère et sa mère, entre désordre et mélancolie, dans un véritable capharnaüm. De temps en temps, un homme séduisant qui l’impressionne et la rend muette l’emmène dîner dans une boîte de nuit. Cet homme est son père, Maurice Girodias, don Juan et dandy, éditeur de Lolita, Miller et Burroughs, héros de la lutte contre la censure pour certains, aventurier sans scrupules pour d’autres. L’enfant devient adolescente, et comprend qu’elle doit compter sur elle-même. Au milieu des années 60, elle a dix-sept ans et entreprend une traversée de la Californie, qui à cette époque libertaire prend vite l’allure d’un voyage initiatique. De retour en France, l’adolescente devenue femme se révolte. Nous sommes en mai 68.

Mais est-il possible de mener le récit d’une enfance et d’une adolescence sans faire face au silence, à la honte et au mensonge ? Juliette Kahane affronte l’histoire de son père, ouvre les caisses d’archives qu’elle a héritées de lui, et se résout enfin à lire son autobiographie, Une journée sur la terre. »

« 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. »

a guide to berlin1

Exposition Nabokov à Strasbourg: « A Guide to Berlin »  de Natalia et Maria Petschatnikov

29-30 avril, 2, 5, 6 mai 2014.     8h-19h

a guide to berlin1

Dans le cadre de la journée doctoriale Nabokov à Strasbourg, l’oeuvre de Natalia et Maria Petschatnikov, inspirée par la nouvelle de Nabokov « Guide de Berlin » (1925) est exposée à la MISHA de Strasbourg.

Lire la suite