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Reading Queneau
Reading Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov & France
31st May 2013
Simon Rowberry
Simon.Rowberry@winchester.ac.uk
More than contemporaries?
Textual comparisons
are far more fruitful
Writing
Under
Constraint
Potential Literature
The procedure
is the message
Potential Literature in
Nabokov
Word
Golf
Lass
Mass
Mars
Mare
Male
Potential Reading
Interpretive
Creative
Occasionally
oulipian
Generative
Potential Reading For Digital
Nabokov Studies
• Did Nabokov successfully disguise his
authorship of Lolita?
• Does Nabokov’s fictional world expand
with his geographical expansion?
• How do we best represent the experience
of discovery through re-reading and re-re-
reading Nabokov's dense and enigmatic
texts?
• What if Shade wrote the commentary to
Kinbote's magnum opus?
Deformative Reading
"A deformative procedure puts the reader in a
highly idiosyncratic relation to the work. This
consequence could scarcely be avoided, since
deformance sends both reader and work through
the textual looking glass. On the other side
customary rules are not completely short-
circuited, but they are held in abeyance, to be
chosen among (there are many systems of
rules), to be followed or not as one decides.
Deformative moves reinvestigate the terms in
which critical commentary will be undertaken"
(Samuels & McGann 1999:36).
N+7
• Algorithm for potential literature by
Lescure
• Requires a text and a dictionary
• The size of the dictionary affects the
result
• 7 is arbitrary but useful
Lolita + 7
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my
soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip
of three steps down the palate to tap, at three,
on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
"Lolita, light-year of my lifetime, firecracker of my
longings. My single-decker, my south. Lo-left-
winger-ta: the tirade of the toot taking a triumph
of three stepparents dowse the pallet to tar, at
three, on the teeth. Lo. Left-winger. Ta. “
Deformative Pale Fire
N(S) + K + 7
N(S) – Shade’s text
K – Kinbote’s text
Derformative Pale Fire
I was the Shakespeare of the wealthy slayer
By the famous back in the winger
I was the snake of asking flute--and I
Lived on, flew on, in the refreshed slain,
And from the insomnia, too, I'd dwell
Myself, my landing, an appraisal on a play:
Uncurtaining the nightshirt, I'd let darwinian glassman
Hang all the fury above the gratitude,
And how demented when a fame of snub
Covered my glitter of Lazurchik and reached up so
As to make chambers and bedroom exactly stand
Upon that soap, out in that culminated landscaper!

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Reading Queneau Reading Nabokov

  • 1. Reading Queneau Reading Nabokov Vladimir Nabokov & France 31st May 2013 Simon Rowberry Simon.Rowberry@winchester.ac.uk
  • 8. Potential Reading For Digital Nabokov Studies • Did Nabokov successfully disguise his authorship of Lolita? • Does Nabokov’s fictional world expand with his geographical expansion? • How do we best represent the experience of discovery through re-reading and re-re- reading Nabokov's dense and enigmatic texts? • What if Shade wrote the commentary to Kinbote's magnum opus?
  • 9. Deformative Reading "A deformative procedure puts the reader in a highly idiosyncratic relation to the work. This consequence could scarcely be avoided, since deformance sends both reader and work through the textual looking glass. On the other side customary rules are not completely short- circuited, but they are held in abeyance, to be chosen among (there are many systems of rules), to be followed or not as one decides. Deformative moves reinvestigate the terms in which critical commentary will be undertaken" (Samuels & McGann 1999:36).
  • 10.
  • 11. N+7 • Algorithm for potential literature by Lescure • Requires a text and a dictionary • The size of the dictionary affects the result • 7 is arbitrary but useful
  • 12. Lolita + 7 "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” "Lolita, light-year of my lifetime, firecracker of my longings. My single-decker, my south. Lo-left- winger-ta: the tirade of the toot taking a triumph of three stepparents dowse the pallet to tar, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Left-winger. Ta. “
  • 13. Deformative Pale Fire N(S) + K + 7 N(S) – Shade’s text K – Kinbote’s text
  • 14. Derformative Pale Fire I was the Shakespeare of the wealthy slayer By the famous back in the winger I was the snake of asking flute--and I Lived on, flew on, in the refreshed slain, And from the insomnia, too, I'd dwell Myself, my landing, an appraisal on a play: Uncurtaining the nightshirt, I'd let darwinian glassman Hang all the fury above the gratitude, And how demented when a fame of snub Covered my glitter of Lazurchik and reached up so As to make chambers and bedroom exactly stand Upon that soap, out in that culminated landscaper!

Editor's Notes

  1. Discussing whole Oulipo (workshop for potential literature)Nabokov considered as a member in the 1960s but 1) Never live Montru2) would never join groupEvidence that PerecPurekread Nabokov (Grayson)Anecdotal evidence – “Nabokov and Queneau met at some gala in the seventies and talked about their goddaughters” (Levin Becker, 262)
  2. This is where the interest really liesOulipo only public in the 1970s – golden agesGrayson looks primarily at autobiographical writing for Nabokov and PerecPaul Braffort looked at writing proceduresCould c.f Life a user’s manual, Mulligan Stew, HoL, PF
  3. The problems of talking about writing under constraintWhere does writing under constraint start? C.f. prose/poetry/sonnet/etcAll writing is under constraint
  4. Procedural literature (often algorithmic) – expanded version of constraint based writingPropose new structures to writersAnticipatory plagiarism
  5. Vane SistersWord golfPale Fire – narrative through commentary
  6. Point 1 – Dana – dropping Russian for FrenchPoint 2 – Michael Wood’s inventing Europe, America, etcPoint 3 – My work on hypertext, Brian Boyd’s AdaOnline (c.f. Marc Saporta’s Composition No. 1 iPad App)The first three questions, although worthy of further exploration are macro-scale problems beyond the scope of this humble paper, but the fourth exists as a provocative test of applying deformative interpretation to Nabokov's text.
  7. Lisa Samuels and JeromeMcGannc.f. Pale Fire in this quoteThus, the greatest methodological gain from a deformative reading is not in the results of such an investigation as these may be invalid but rather questioning the methods to which we approach these texts. Therefore, such a hermeneutic curiosity is ideal for the most fractious sites in Nabokov's corpus..
  8. Samuels and McGann's canonical linguistic example is Wallace Steven's "The Snow Man" in which they alter the text by removing words to explore how space works within the piece. It is through a change in the original text that one can perhaps
  9. Explain dictionaries7 is long enough to avoid stemmasPROBLEMATISE – how to deal with headwords/compound nouns/proper nouns – typical lexicographical concerns
  10. Submlimeis transformed into the absurd as Humbert's lyricism is replaced by non-sequitur. Despite these absurdities, this potential nth-rate knock-off of Humbert's opening soliloquy offer in-sight into the syntax of the piece more than its semantic meaning and its connection with orality.The lust of the original is also reflected in this new generative reading of Lolita as "light-year of my lifetime, firecracker of my longings" renders the metaphoric yearning for Dolly Haze in a not too dissimilar light, demonstrating on a syntactic level, a deeper structure to the passage. Now, we knew much of this already, but this experiment offered further evidence towards the structural integrity of the soliloquy.
  11. Some arbitrary decisions - +7 for verbs etc when it felt appropriate
  12. Nonsense verseThe incursions of Zembla into the poemBut what about the crystal land? It puts some in and takes some out – the arbitrary nature of itDemonstrates symbiotic relationship between commentary and poem