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Vladimir Nabokov's Ada: In the "Crystal Ball" of Transcultural Utopia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Finnish, Dutch, and German, Slavic Languages.
2018 (English)In: Slavic and East European Journal, ISSN 0037-6752, E-ISSN 2325-7687, Vol. 62, no 3, p. 549-565Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Ada or Ardor. A Family Chronicle (1969) is a trilingual work saturated with literary and pictorial allusions. It is regarded here as a nexus with regard to different branches of Nabokov’s earlier writing. The dystopian/utopian part of Nabokov’s earlier work is expanded in Ada into the genre of the family novel, traditionally anchored in a referential historical and geographical reality. The article discusses images of space in Ada: the planetary utopias of Terra and Anti-Terra, where Anti-Terra is an anachronistic world of trilingual toponyms. The family chronicle is placed within internal smaller “utopias”: the idyllic Ardis Park, Ada’s larvarium—a lepidopterist’s scientific paradise—as well as the parodic erotic utopia of Villa Venus. It will be argued here that there exists a prototype for these hermetic spaces: Nabokov’s image of art as a “crystal ball” (“snow globe”). Finally, the question of a connection between the multilingualism of Nabokov’s Ada and its pictorial “turn” will be discussed: it will be argued that pictorial sources provide images of space, replacing real referential ones. Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Ada or Ardor. A Family Chronicle (1969) is a trilingual work saturated with literary and pictorial allusions. It is regarded here as a nexus with regard to different branches of Nabokov’s earlier writing. The dystopian/utopian part of Nabokov’s earlier work is expanded in Ada into the genre of the family novel, traditionally anchored in a referential historical and geographical reality. The article discusses images of space in Ada: the planetary utopias of Terra and Anti-Terra, where Anti-Terra is an anachronistic world of trilingual toponyms. The family chronicle is placed within internal smaller “utopias”: the idyllic Ardis Park, Ada’s larvarium—a lepidopterist’s scientific paradise—as well as the parodic erotic utopia of Villa Venus. It will be argued here that there exists a prototype for these hermetic spaces: Nabokov’s image of art as a “crystal ball” (“snow globe”). Finally, the question of a connection between the multilingualism of Nabokov’s Ada and its pictorial “turn” will be discussed: it will be argued that pictorial sources provide images of space, replacing real referential ones.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 62, no 3, p. 549-565
Keywords [en]
Nabokov, Cosmopolitanism, Utopia
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-161798ISI: 000449243300006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-161798DiVA, id: diva2:1261288
Projects
Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics in World Literatures
Funder
Riksbankens JubileumsfondAvailable from: 2018-11-06 Created: 2018-11-06 Last updated: 2018-12-10Bibliographically approved

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