Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Painting

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Amsterdam University Press, 2006 - Art - 223 pages
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“Sounds have colors and colors have smells.” This sentence in Ada is only one of the many moments in Nabokov’s work where he sought to merge the visual into his rich and sensual writing. This lavishly illustrated study is the first to examine the role of the visual arts in Nabokov’s oeuvre and to explore how art deepens the potency of the prominent themes threaded throughout his work. 

The authors trace the role of art in Nabokov’s life, from his alphabetic chromesthesia—a psychological condition in which letters evoke specific colors—to his training under Marc Chagall’s painting instructor to his deep admiration for Leonardo da Vinci and Hieronymus Bosch. They then examine over 150 references to specific works of art in such novels as Laughter in the Dark, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Pnin, Lolita, Ada, and Pale Fire and consider how such references reveal new emotional aspects of Nabokov’s fiction.

A fascinating and wholly original study, Nabokov and the Art of Painting will be invaluable reading for scholars and enthusiasts of Nabokov alike.

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Contents

Foreword
7
The Mad Pursuit in Laughter in the Dark
30
The Real Life of Sebastian Knight Its Colours and Painting
39
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Gerard de Vries’s writings on Nabokov have appeared in Russian Literature Triquarterly, Nabokov Studies, Revue de Littérature Comparée, and The Nabokovian. Donald Barton Johnson is professor emeritus of Russian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Worlds in Regression: Some Novels of Vladimir Nabokov. Liana Ashenden is a researcher who studies Bosch.

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