NABOKV-L post 0000805, Wed, 8 Nov 1995 14:02:07 -0800

Re: MLA Abstracts. 179 #2
From: Corinne Laura Scheiner <>

"Reading Double in Vladimir Nabokov"--Abstract

I propose to examine the bilingual self-translating author as a
locus through which to study the intersection of literature, language,
culture and identity. The bilingual author's unique position manifests
itself on several levels. First, on a personal level, the bilingual
author must address issues of identification for s/he has attachments to
more than one language and culture and possesses a seemingly
contradictory status as both member of a given society and as foreigner.
Second, the bilingual author produces a double corpus, composing works in
both languages and occupying a place in two literary traditions. Each
text is intended for a different audience--according to the language of
composition--and may be said to reflect the author's relation to that
audience. The physical manifestation of the bilingual corpus is most
vivid in the act of self-translation. As Susan Bassnett points out in
_Translation Studies_, translation may be seen as a process of literary
manipulation in which texts are rewritten across linguistic boundaries
within a clearly inscribed cultural and historical context. The
self-translated text provides a perfect illustration of the inherently
"refractive" nature of translation.
Last, one may analyze themes common to bilingual writers,
specifically that of a search for identity. Since language serves as a
means of communication and cannot be examined separately from culture, a
thematic analysis must account for the difficulties faced by the
bilingual writer who is required to function in more than one culture. I
will examine the theme of the double, as employed by Vladimir Nabokov, as
a means for bilingual writers to come to terms with their position
relative to the multiple cultures in which they find themselves. The use
of the double allows the author to enact the interaction of the
self--member of the society--, with the other--the outsider, the
foreigner. By the same token, self-translation provides a way to
translate from one culture to another in a manner reflecting the author's
different relationship to the source and target cultures.

Corinne Scheiner
University of Chicago