Subject: Delage-Toriel dissertation: "Ultra Violet DArlings. Representations of Women in Nabokov's Prose Fiction" Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 10:42:16 -0700 From: "D. Barton Johnson" <email@example.com> Organization: International Nabokov Society To: vn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
EDITOR's NOTE. Although one of the reasons for writing a dissertation is to get a job, its prime function is to present new knowledge or interpretations about its topic for other interested parties. NABOKV-L urges all Nabokovians to inform their colleagues of their research and publications. Professional recognition depends on making others aware of your work so they may draw on it. NABOKV-L particularly thanks Barbara Wyllie and Lara Delage for their dissertation abstracts.
------------------------------------From: "Lara Delage"
<email@example.com> In the wake of Barbara Wyllie’s initiative, I am posting a synopsis of my PhD dissertation, which was submitted in Cambridge last January. The synopsis was written for academic purposes and may not convey, in its assertiveness, the nuances in my thesis. ---------------------------------- Ultraviolet Darlings Representations of Women in Nabokov's Prose Fiction Lara Delage-Toriel This study proposes to shed light on a heretofore neglected aspect of Nabokov's fiction: his portrayal of women. It embraces the entire corpus of his novels, as well as some of his short stories and non-fictional works. Nabokov is renowned for his finely chiselled prose, sharpness of vision and provocative slant of thought. Yet for all his stylistic and intellectual originality, Nabokov's mode of characterization does not escape certain archetypal and stereotypical patterns. This tendency is all the more conspicuous in the case of female characters, who, despite being in constant focus, never appear in his novels as dominant focalizers. The narrative point of view in every one of Nabokov's novels is as distinctively male as is his claim for absolute authority over his fictional worlds. This twofold objectification of women has made Nabokov an ideal target for feminist critics, yet surprisingly few have risen to the challenge. The reason for this critical silence may lie in Nabokov's characteristic ambiguity. His vision is a prismatic one, which refracts rather than reflects the reality it refers to. My aim, which is not primarily feminist, is to investigate various Nabokovian refractions of the feminine: the vulgar, the virtuous, the muse, the mother. I examine the way in which Nabokov plays with these familiar figures of femininity and confers upon them an individual aura, turning them into his own 'ultraviolet darling[s]'. In my first chapter, I gather around the notion of poshlost and the figure of Emma Bovary various kinds of vulgar women. These are contrasted with a group of virtuous women, who fail to achieve harmonious relationships with their male partners. In my second chapter, I consider the muse figure and its implications for women's role in Nabokov's artistic process. In my third chapter, I study Nabokov's iconography of the maternal by examining various configurations of the mother-child relationship in his fiction. My last chapter brings into perspective the very notion of representation by dwelling upon the pictorial politics framing the female portrait. Throughout my study, references to Nabokov's relationships with women in real life draw these issues into relief and help to illuminate both the distinctively personal and the more traditional traits in Nabokov's delineation of the feminine. __