A Rhetoric of Absence. Japanese Motifs in V.V. Nabokov’s Last Novel

Irina Marchesini


The concept of absence seems to be crucial in Vladimir Vladimirovič Nabokov’s poetics. Indeed, not only it is thematically present in his novels and poems, but in certain cases it performs a structural function. His last, unfinished work, The Original of Laura (Dying is fun) (2009), makes a perfect case. Reading this novel concentrating on the full-empty opposition interestingly reveals a typical nabokovian strategy, i.e. evoking the full through emptiness and segmentation. Drawing from these premises, this paper focuses on the representation of female body in The Original of Laura, investigating the productivity of rhetorical figures, with particular reference to asyndeton. In this reference frame the role of Japanese aesthetics is discussed.


Asyndeton; Absence; Nabokov; Beardsley; Japanese Art; The Original of Laura

Full Text:

PDF (Italiano)


Appel, Alfred Jr., The Annotated Lolita, New York, Vintage, 1991.

Bourge, Christian, “Neither form nor function”, The Washington Times, 17 /11/ 2009, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/17/neither-form-nor-function/, online (ultimo accesso 16/02/2014).

Bussolino, Claudia, Glossario di retorica, metrica e narratologia, Milano, Alpha Test, 2006.

Calloway, Stephen, Aubrey Beardsley, London, V&A Publications, 1998.

De Vries, Gerard, Burton Johnson, Donald, Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Painting, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2006.

Dureau, Yona, Nabokov ou le sourire du chat, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2001.

Eco, Umberto, Vertigine della lista, Milano, Bompiani, 2009.

Enterline, Lynn, The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Fanasca, Marta, “La morbosa sensualità di Yamamoto Takato”, Nuove prospettive di ricerca sul Giappone, a cura di Giorgio Amitrano e Silvana De Maio, Napoli, Il Torcoliere, 2012: 201-217.

Garavelli, Bice Mortara, Manuale di retorica, Milano, Bompiani, 1989.

Johnson, Donald Burton, “Eyeing Nabokov’s Eye”, Canadian-American Slavic Studies, 19.3 (1985): 328- 350.

Lay, Mary M., Gurak, Laura J., Gravon, Clare, Myntti, Cynthia (ed. by) Body Talk: Rhetoric, Technology, Reproduction, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.

Nabokov, Vladimir, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, London, Penguin, 2001.

Nabokov, Vladimir, L’originale di Laura, Milano, Adelphi, 2009.

Newton, Maud, “Nabokov’s The Original of Laura as performance art?”, Maud Newton Blog, 23 Febbraio 2010. http://maudnewton.com/blog/?p=11576, online (ultimo accesso 16/02/2014).

Persi, Ugo, La parola in Liberty. Il Liberty letterario tra Russia e Occidente, Milano, Guerini e Associati, 1989.

Selzer, Jack, Crowley, Sharon (ed. by), Rhetorical Bodies, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.

Šklovskij, Viktor, Chod konja. Sbornik statej. Moskva-Berlin, Gelikon, 1923.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/1151

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17079

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

ISSN 2421-5821 

Between is published by the University of Cagliari - Maintenance for this OJS installation is provided by UniCA Open Journals, hosted by Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo.

Between Journal was founded in 2011 with the financial contribution of Fondazione Banco di Sardegna (years 2010-2011).

ISSN 2039-6597 

CC-By lockssDOAJ seal SPARC Europe