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On October 27-28 CSEEES hosted the second part of a transatlantic symposium “Vladimir Nabokov and Translation.” Organized by Julie Loison-Charles (Lille University) and Stanislav Shvabrin (UNC-Chapel Hill), the symposium invited scholars to discuss the most divisive and contentious aspect of Vladimir Nabokov’s global reputation, his practice and theory of literary translation. By the same token, the symposium explored the least researched facet of Nabokov’s artistic and scholarly enterprise, his life-long passionate engagement with translation.

After a rigorous selection of submissions solicited in English, French, and Russian, the symposium’s committee extended invitations to the authors of a number of abstracts that had come from literary scholars, translators, translation specialists, artists, and performers engaged in various adaptations of Vladimir Nabokov’s works for stage and screen. The finalized programs featured papers from senior scholars and graduate students alike. Participants came from Canada, England, France, Hungary, India, Italy, Russia, Spain, as well as the U.S.

The first “European” part of the Symposium took place on the campus of Lille University from May 17-18 (link to the Lille program), and the second, “American,” part from October 27-28, 2018 (link to the UNC program).

Symposium participants
Symposium participants

The Symposium participants delved into a plethora of aspects associated with Nabokov’s translations of other writers to and from English, French, German, Italian, Latin, and Russian. Apart from examining such familiar works as Nabokov’s annotated “literal” translation of Aleksandr Pushkin’s novel in verse Eugene Onegin (first publication 1964; finalized 1975), the Symposium participants focused on Nabokov’s translations of other writers ranging from Mikhail Lermontov (Russian) to Romain Rolland (French), reexamined Nabokov’s self-translations and also various adaptations of his original compositions in other media. Translators of Nabokov’s works into Catalan, French, English, Russian, and Spanish spoke about their work; a literary translation workshop held in Lille brought together scholars, literary translators, and undergraduate students interested in the inner workings of Nabokov’s translation of his novel Lolita.

The transatlantic symposium “Vladimir Nabokov and Translation” was sponsored by Les Chercheurs Enchantés: Société Française Vladimir Nabokov; Centre d’Études en Civilisations Langues et Lettres Étrangères (Lille University); Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, Institut des Amériques (France); the UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities; the UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures (UNC Chapel Hill).

Stanislav Shvabrin
(Assistant Professor of Russian and Russian Program Director at UNC-Chapel Hill)

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