Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1932-2798
  • E-ISSN: 1876-2700
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Our understanding of Vladimir Nabokov’s method of translating as literal is largely based on his own claims and as such it populates anthologies of translation theory (i.e., Venuti’s and classrooms. However, upon closer examination, Nabokov’s method is extremely removed both from the broad and specialized understanding of what a literal translation is. It is neither instrumental, as any literal translation would be, nor hermeneutic, as any literary translation accompanied by a voluminous commentary should be. Nabokov’s , an adjunct to his translation of , is the key to his translation method and to the translation’s strangeness. Analyzing the nature, scope, and function of the commentary from within the field of translation studies rather than that of literary criticism, this essay accounts for a number of idiosyncrasies observed by many critics of but previously unexplored and unexplained. These include its seemingly irrational feature of discussing texts unrelated to Pushkin’s own reading list; its excessive attention to Gallicisms and Romantic texts; its role in stabilizing translation; in a word, its function in Nabokov’s innovative translation methodology. This essay argues that instead of reviewing Nabokov’s within the paradigms of literary or historiographic genres, we should consider it first as a translation tool. The translation methodology then can be reevaluated in more technical terms than conventionally practiced in literary translation criticism. This revision unveils Nabokov’s translation not as literary but technical and not as literal but corpus-based, with mechanics and parallel texts minutely detailed in the commentary.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): corpus; Gallicisms; Nabokov; Onegin; parallel texts; Pushkin
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