Vladimir Nabokov

Renaming "Ostranennie" in English

By carolynkunin, 2 August, 2020

Dear All,

I've started reading an essay by Carlo Ginsburg in his book "Wooden Eyes" (a reference to Pinocchio, which does literally mean wooden eye) entitled "Making it Strange; the pre-history of a literary device." And it got me to thinking ... I have always felt uncomfortable with the English translations of "ostranennie" into English. "Making it strange" is awkward, barely English at all. So I sat down at the computer and started exploring possible alternatives. And I came up with the following short list:

Decognition, Disconstruction (intentional misconstruction), Masking, Dis-sembling and Dis-simulation.

Any thoughts?

with greetings from

Carolyn Kunin in Pasadena


3 years 11 months ago


It is strange that there is no serviceable English translation for such a familiar experience. The obvious one should be "estrange," somewhat in its 3rd definition (but the word is too associated with the first two):


verb (used with object), es·tranged, es·trang·ing.

1. to turn away in feeling or affection; make unfriendly or hostile; alienate the affections of:Their quarrel estranged the two friends.

2. to remove to or keep at a distance:The necessity for traveling on business has estranged him from his family.

3. to divert from the original use or possessor.