Arkady Bliumbaum (European University at St. Petersburg) supplies a note on the figure of Zina's father-in-law, Shchyogolev. While in his commentary on the novel Alexander Dolinin has related the name of that character to the Pushkin scholar P. E. Shchyogolev, his occupation as a "public prosecutor" (prokuror) has not been seen as related to this prototype. Bliumbaum finds a likely connection in the use of overtly juridical language in P. E. Shchyogolev's 1927-28 polemic against Vladislav Khodasevich's biographical reading of Pushkin's Rusalka.
Alexander Dolinin (University of Wisconsin-Madison) presents the second installment of his ongoing commentary to Nabokov's novel The Gift (see the first part published in NOJ, Vol. I, 2007). Dr. Dolinin is the commentator of the only authorized Russian edition of The Gift, published in the fourth volume of The Collected Works of Vladimir Nabokov in five volumes (1999-2001). During the seven years since the appearance of this long-awaited Russian edition of the novel, professor Dolinin has accumulated many new illuminating notes to the text which he plans to post in forthcoming issues of the Nabokov Online Journal. In the current issue, Dolinin explicates the meaning of the books that Yasha Chernyshevsky reads on the last night before his suicide - Annensky's and Khodasevich's volumes of poetry - as related to the destiny of the characters in The Gift. A careful reading of Annensky's poetry reveals certain suicidal trends that possibly appealed to a young poet in exile. In the next note Dolinin explores the traces of Alexander Blok in the narrative, explicating the relation of the episodic character Kern to the Pushkinian thread in the novel via the name of Anna Petrovna Kern, one of Pushkin's lovers. Dolinin continues his notes with the tentative identification of another minor fictional character of The Gift, German Ivanovich Busch, with the émigré publicist and poet Ilya Britan (1885-1941). This installment of Dolinin's commentary is complemented by some recently-discovered additional sources for Fyodor's father's scientific expeditions which Nabokov borrowed from the memoirs of famous Russian explorers.
As M. Gigi Durham (University of Iowa) demonstrates in her essay, "The Lolita Effect," in contemporary media culture, the sexy little girl has become a pervasive sign, and the cultural reference most frequently invoked to describe this phenomenon is Lolita. The word "Lolita" is used to describe a wanton, provocative nymphet who seduces adult men, but in fact is a highly corporate system of commodity capital that is constructing and circulating this version of Lolita via mainstream media and marketing. In this chapter, the Introduction to the forthcoming book The Lolita Effect, the author draws on Barthes' concept of myth to analyze the emergence of the sexy little girl in twenty-first century popular culture, examine the conditions of production that have mobilized the dissemination of this image, and offer a distinction between the myth of girls' sexuality in the mainstream for-profit media and progressive, diverse, healthy concepts of sexuality that are elided and marginalized by these images.
Gauhar Dyusembaeva (National Library, Jerusalem) suggests that although Nabokov's older friend and poetic mentor Sasha Chyorny's name is never mentioned in The Gift, it is actually encoded in the "black-and-white theme of the novel" (Nabokov was aware of the pairing of the pen-names of two poets, Sasha Chyorny ["Black"] and Andrey Bely ["White" in Russian]). Among Chyorny's pseudonyms was "Turdus," and of one of his last poems was entitled "Chyorny Drozd" ["Blackbird"]. This leads Dyusembaeva to assume that Alexander Chyorny is embodied in The Gift in an image of a live blackbird, sitting on the vertical yellow letter "A" (in the original) of the name of a car firm near the Berlin gas station, "singing louder than the radio" (The Gift, 1991, 174). It is not accidental that in the Russian version the blackbird crowns the second letter "A", while the first one turns out to be "D". The automobile brand remains the same in both versions of the text (Daimler-Benz), but the Russian version stresses an unpronounced title of the novel, DA - Dar.
Emma W. Hamilton (Palgrave Macmillan) in her article, "Look at the Harlequins!: Nabokov's Corpus Compendium" examines the author/narrator relationship between Nabokov and Vadim Vadimovich N., and posits that Vadim is a negative paradigm for the ethos of literature that Nabokov espoused in his lectures. Vadim's fainting spell in Part Six exposes him as a writer who cannot "traverse the mirror" of the world of fiction - his writing and his life have a parasitic relationship which robs both of their vibrancy. Vadim's work is reflective and ultimately limiting, as opposed to the refractive and expansive quality that Nabokov felt all good literature must possess.
Peter Lowe (International Study Centre, Herstmonceux Castle) shows in "Musing upon the King's Wreck: T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land in Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire" that Nabokov was often scornful in his comments on the "pretentious vulgarity [and] tedious nonsense" he found in T. S. Eliot's poetry. His novel Pale Fire, built as it is around a lengthy poem with Notes that promise to 'explain' the text and only make it more obscure, may be read as a pastiche of the format Eliot employed in The Waste Land. Whilst the textual echoes of Eliot's poem within Pale Fire have been identified and analysed, however, Lowe contends that Nabokov's borrowings from Eliot reveal an indebtedness that exceeds his conscious disavowals of any sense of influence, and connects both writers in their exploration of the pitfalls of self-delusion and the means by which fragmented understanding may be woven into a cohesive whole. Closer examination of the echoes of The Waste Land in Pale Fire, then, suggests that Eliot's verse informs the text on a much deeper level than simply that of a target for Nabokov's wit.
Isabelle Poulin (Université Michel de Montaigne de Bordeaux 3) contributes an essay entitled "Teaching (with) Nabokov." Professor Poulin has been teaching Nabokov ever since the beginning of her academic career and in the present paper she gives an account of her experience. Her teaching is linked to Nabokov's own, since it was at Cornell University that she taught French language in 1989. In her doctoral thesis in Comparative Literature (defended in 1993) Poulin examined what could or should be a critical discourse on literature influenced by bilingual writers such as Nabokov. Since then, she regularly includes works by Nabokov in her syllabus. Whether used as an introduction (for non specialists) or as experimentation (for students majoring in literature), Poulin poses the ultimate question: What does it mean to be "a good reader"?
Irena Ronen (Independent Scholar, Ann Arbor) offers "Pushkin's Presence in Solus Rex," a paper that surveys Pushkinian motifs in Nabokov's unfinished novel Solus Rex. There are numerous important parallels that have gone unnoticed by critics, among them: 1) the theme of a commission for which no one would ever come, accompanied by a motif of approaching death (Pushkin's Mozart and Salieri); 2) the theme of lost love and the quest for it in the world beyond, associated with water (Pushkin's unfinished poetic drama Rusalka). Pushkin's presence can be signaled by proxy: for example, Tiutchev's poem in memory of his dead mistress Denis'eva ("On the Eve of the Anniversary of August 4, 1864"). In the dream of Sineusov, the protagonist of "Ultima Thule," the motif of a child being born posthumously evokes the birth of Rusalka's daughter to a dead mother in Pushkin's play. Nabokov also uses the plot of Pushkin's antithesis to Rusalka, "The Stationmaster," in one of the episodes of Solus Rex. An early story by Nabokov, "The Return of Chorb," is shown to be a prefiguration of the master-plot developed in "Ultima Thule." Among the works of Pushkin that meant most to Nabokov during the final stage of his Russian period are "Egyptian Nights." Just like his hero in the sequel to The Gift or in the story of the artist Sineusov, Nabokov found his inspiration in an external source, most prominently, Pushkin, in whose "Egyptian Nights" the artist obeys somebody else's creative will and develops the theme offered him by a stranger as if it were his own.
Andrea Tompa (Színház, Budapest) deals with the problems of staging Vladimir Nabokov's works, from plays to short stories and novels. Her study is based on a research of specific performances and related written critical evaluation of Nabokov's writings appeared on stage. The article focuses on Eastern European theatre performances premiered after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the period of social changes in Russia, Romania and Hungary, but also addresses the questions of adaptation and theatrical representation in general. The article analyzes some performances in detail, discussing the mise-en-scenes, acting, and other dramaturgical means. The article concludes that the double nature of Nabokov's writing - this world and the otherworld - represents a major challenge for the stage adaptation, particularly the metaphysical dimension of representation. As Tompa demonstrates, this dimension is absent merely due to dramaturgical constraints and limited interpretations of the texts.
Natalia Vid (University of Maribor) focuses on Vladimir Nabokov's translation of Lewis Carroll's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1923) in the article, "Domesticated Translation: The Case of Nabokov's Translation of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland." The main aim is to analyze Nabokov's translation strategies of domestication, realized in the text as substitution and localization, and to explain the reasons for his decision to favor an almost complete Russification of the original. It is possible that the main reason for this rigorous domestication was Nabokov's intention to make the foreign world of Carroll's story comprehensible for the target audience (Russian children). He used strategies of domestication to convey to Russian children the humor, originality and brightness of Lewis Carroll's paradoxical and attractive world - his sense of the absurd and his amazing gift for games of logic and language - providing a recognizable and familiar atmosphere for the reader. On the other hand, Nabokov refused to oversimplify his translation or to patronize its young audience with simplistic translation solutions. His translation preserved Carroll's intention of inviting children to play with the text. The author includes an analysis of parody translations, showing how Nabokov replaced Carroll's parodies of English poems with his own parodies of famous Russian poems. The most interesting examples of cultural adaptations are localization of food items, historical persons and personal names; methods of translating English puns based on homonyms; and the peculiarities of Nabokov's style, such as sophistication and a slightly archaic tone.