© 2020

The Five Senses in Nabokov's Works

  • Marie Bouchet
  • Julie Loison-Charles
  • Isabelle Poulin


  • Demonstrates the relationship between literature and cognitive science

  • Highlights aspects of Nabokov’s work related to his multilingualism, his personal history, and his experiences brought on by his émigré life

  • Considers the sensual aspects of Nabokov’s prose


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Marie Bouchet, Julie Loison-Charles, Isabelle Poulin
    Pages 1-11
  3. The Role of the Senses in Nabokov’s Aesthetics and Metaphysics

  4. Crossing Sensations and Languages: Multilingualism, Memory and Intermediality

  5. Senses and the Body: From Pleasure to Displeasure

  6. Synesthesia and Multisensoriality

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 239-239
    2. Jean-Michel Hupé
      Pages 241-254

About this book


This collection of essays focuses on a subject largely neglected in Nabokovian criticism—the importance and significance of the five senses in Vladimir Nabokov’s work, poetics, politics and aesthetics. This text analyzes the crucial role of the author’s synesthesia and multilingualism in relation to the five senses, as well as the sensual and erotic dimensions of sensoriality in his works. Each chapter provides a highly focused and sometimes provocative approach to the unique role that sensory perceptions play in the shaping and narrating of Nabokov’s memories and in his creative process.


Vladimir Nabokov auditory gustatory olafactory tactile kinetic synaesthesia cognitive literary studies

Editors and affiliations

  • Marie Bouchet
    • 1
  • Julie Loison-Charles
    • 2
  • Isabelle Poulin
    • 3
  1. 1.University of ToulouseToulouseFrance
  2. 2.University of LilleLilleFrance
  3. 3.University Bordeaux MontaigneBordeauxFrance

About the editors

Marie Bouchet is Assistant Professor of American Literature at the University of Toulouse, France, and the author of Lolita: A Novel by Vladimir Nabokov, A Film by Stanley Kubrick (2009). She has co-edited two collections of essays on Lolita, and is in charge of the annotations to the novel for The Nabokovian.

Julie Loison-Charles is Assistant Professor of Translation Studies at Lille University, France, and has published a book on Nabokov’s use of foreign words (Vladimir Nabokov, ou l’écriture du multilinguisme: mots étrangers et jeux de mots, 2016). She has organized several conferences on Nabokov.

Isabelle Poulin is Professor of Comparative Literature at Bordeaux Montaigne University, France, and author of several books on Nabokov. Her latest are Poétiques du récit d’enfance: Benjamin, Sarraute et Nabokov (2012) and Le Transport romanesque. Le Roman comme espace de la traduction, de Nabokov à Rabelais (2017).

Bibliographic information


“Nabokov may not have believed in ‘reality,’ but he surely believed in the senses, which deliver us such reality as we have access to. The fine essays in this volume take us on a sometimes uncomfortably intimate journey through Nabokov's engagement with the body's physical senses, and how, for him, they produce the raw material for experience, imagination and art.” (Stephen Blackwell, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)

“Though to his many passionate readers, Nabokov is ‘the high priest of sensuality and desire’ (Edmund White), scholars have been surprisingly slow to write about those qualities in his work. This collection takes up that challenge, offering a range of essays from senior figures in the world of Nabokov studies while also introducing exciting work from younger Nabokov scholars. The best work in this volume is not only about sight but touch, sound, taste, and smell, and the troubling relations of all these to one another, to memory, verbal sense, desire, and disgust.” (Thomas Karshan, Senior Lecturer in Literature, University of East Anglia, UK, President of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society)