Between Rhyme and Reason: Vladimir Nabokov, Translation, and Dialogue
The author of such global bestsellers as Lolita and Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) is also one of the most controversial literary translators and translation theorists of modern time. In Between Rhyme and Reason, Stanislav Shvabrin discloses the complexity, nuance, and contradictions behind Nabokov’s theory and practice of literalism to reveal how and why translation came to matter to Nabokov so much.
Drawing on familiar as well as unknown materials, Shvabrin traces the surprising and largely unknown trajectory of Nabokov’s lifelong fascination with translation to demonstrate that, for Nabokov, translation was a form of intellectual communion with his peers across no fewer than six languages. Empowered by Mikhail Bakhtin’s insights into the interactive roots of literary creativity, Shvabrin’s interpretative chronicle of Nabokov’s involvement with translation shows how his dialogic encounters with others in the medium of translation left verbal vestiges on his own creations. Refusing to regard translation as a form of individual expression, Nabokov translated to communicate with his interlocutors, whose words and images continue to reverberate throughout his allusion-rich texts.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 440 pages
- Dimensions: 6.5in x 1.3in x 9.3in
"Overall, Shvabrin has written an extremely thorough, learned, and ‘phenomenally useful’ book. While it perhaps does not entirely lift the ‘veil of mystery’ surrounding Nabokov’s baffling conversion to literalism and polemic dismissal of any alternate approach, it greatly advances our understanding of Nabokov’s evolution as a translator and highlights to what extent translations formed an integral and crucial part of his life and work."
Adrian Wanner, Pennsylvania State University
"This book is a very useful addition to the already extensive list of considerations of Nabokov’s artistic interactions with his two major languages. One of Stanislav Shvabrin’s goals is to trace the logic of Nabokov’s development as a translator and the importance of Nabokov’s investment in translation for an understanding of his artistic history. The chapters on the early Sirin are particularly illuminating in their detailed considerations of aspects of his artistic evolution, especially his juvenilia."
Elizabeth K. Beaujour, Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center
The Russian Review, Vol 79, July 2020
"Between Rhyme and Reason is a substantial and substantive piece of research. Stanislav Shvabrin offers a comprehensive examination of Nabokov’s translation practice from his youth until near the end of his life, including both poetry and prose works. In looking at specific texts, Shvabrin not only describes in detail the individual technical and artistic features of the work under analysis but also reveals how Nabokov’s engagement with a given text may have influenced the development of his own art."
Julian Connolly, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
"Although much attention has always been given to Nabokov’s infamous Onegin translation and commentary, no one has previously thought of approaching Nabokov’s translation work as a coherent and revealing thread running the full length of his creative life, a perspective which enlightens our understanding of not only the Onegin project itself but the very beginning, evolution, and realization of Nabokov’s artistic vision and practice. Shvabrin’s study provides this crucial yet missing element, and more."
Stephen Blackwell, Russian Program, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Author InformationStanislav Shvabrin is an associate professor of Russian in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Table of contents
On Transliteration and Translation
1. Before Sirin: A Foretaste of Translation (1910–1919)
2. Before Nabokov: Sirin Translates (1919–1936)
3. Before Eugene Onegin: "Sinning Lovingly, Sinning Tenderly" (1940–1955)
4. Eugene Onegin in Its Element (1955–1965)
5. Beyond Eugene Onegin (1965–1977)
Jane Grayson Prize for Best First Book on Nabokov
The International Vladimir Nabokov Society - Winner in 2020
Subjects and Courses