Cycnos | Volume 12 n°2 NABOKOV : At the Crossroads of Modernism and Postmodernism - 


Texte intégral

1The second Nice conference on Nabokov took place exactly forty years after the publication of Lolita whose opening pages provide an idyllic picture of the French Riviera. This novel, which the organizer had not been allowed to teach at the Sorbonne in the 70s, has finally been awarded the status of a classic in France by the Agrégation jury which has put it on the syllabus this year.

2Many of the Nabokovians who attended the first conference in 1992 were present at this one, too, with the exception of Vladimir Alexandrov, Gennady Barabtarlo, Stephen Parker and David Rampton. Dmitri Nabokov, who was still recuperating after a tiring though extremely fruitful first trip to Russia, was not able to attend but was gracious enough to send a message which is included in the present proceedings.

3The conference was graced by the presence of newcomers, most of them well-known in Nabokovland: Galya Diment, Alexander Dolinin, a contributor to the Pléiade, John Burt Foster, Jane Grayson, Don Johnson, the chief editor of Nabokov Studies and of the Nabokov forum on Internet, Laurent Milesi and Vladimir Troubetzkoy, a member of the Pléiade team, too. The presence of David Lodge constituted, of course, one of the conference’s main attractions; the word-known chronicler of international conferences, who has tried to keep away from such academic gatherings lately, not only gave a sharp-witted paper but participated actively in the discussions. He has written an interesting report on the event for the Telegraph Magazine in which he mentions that some of the participants asked him if he was going to write another novel like Small World; “I could never quite decide whether they feared or hoped to figure in it”, he comments.1

4The goal of this conference was not to investigate the influence modernist literature had on Nabokov nor the one he had on postmodernist literature, though both subjects were mentioned parenthetically, especially during the discussions. Some critics, among them Brian McHale, had attempted to pigeonhole Nabokov’s fiction, deciding eventually that most of his novels until Lolita were modernist and most of those since postmodernist. The participants tried to tackle this difficult subject, comparing Nabokov’s fiction to that of Joyce or of other modernist writers like Kafka, or again to that of famous postmodernists like Pérec or Pynchon, eventually concluding that these labels had to be used with infinite care in a case like this. Nabokov, who considered himself as “unclubbable”, is impossible to pigeonhole. Like all very great artists, he created his own school, his own genre, even. His work transcends history, yet it bears the mark of those politically troubled and intellectually thriving times which it spans, as many of the following papers testify.

5N.B.: The publication of these proceedings was made possible by a generous grant of the American Cultural Services in Paris.

Notes de bas de page numériques

1 Telegraph Magazine (August 3, 1995), 10.

Pour citer cet article

« Introduction », paru dans Cycnos, Volume 12 n°2, mis en ligne le 25 juin 2008, URL :

Directeurs de la publication

Maurice Couturier