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Vladimir Nabokov et la France

Yannicke Chupin
Agnès Edel-Roy
Monica Manolescu
et al.

I. L'Invention de la France et de l'Europe

Do you mind cutting out the French? Nabokov’s disinvention of Europe

Michael Wood

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–Eh bien, mon prince. Gênes et Lucques ne sont plus que des apanages, des pomestja, de la famille Buonaparte. Non, je vous préviens que si vous ne me dites pas que nous avons la guerre, si vous vous permettez encore de pallier toutes les infamies, toutes les atrocités de cet Antichrist (ma parole, j’y crois) – je ne vous connais plus, vous n’êtes plus mon ami, vous n’êtes plus moj vernyj rab, comme vous dites1.
(Tolstoy, 3)

As readers will have recognized, this is a quotation from a great Russian novel but it is not a translation from Russian into French. It is the French, lightly scattered with Russian, spoken by a Russian lady in War and Peace. French is her native language, or one of her native languages, and the Russian phrases confirm this suggestion. Similarly Tatiana, in Eugene Onegin, writes her famous letter in French, although Pushkin doesn’t provide us with the actual French text.

This doesn’t mean we can’t read it, because Nabokov in his commentary has helpfully supplied ...


Professeur émérite de littérature anglaise et comparée à l’université de Princeton. Il est notamment l’auteur de García Márquez : One Hundred Years of Solitude (1990), The Magician’s Doubts. Nabokov and the Risks of Fiction (1994), Children of Silence (1998), The Road to Delphi (2003), Literature and the Taste of Knowledge (2005) et Yeats and Violence (2010).

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2017

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