Neurological Synesthesia vs Literary Synesthesia: Can Nabokov Help Bridge the Gap?

  • Marie Bouchet


It is crucial to distinguish between neurological synesthesia (the brain condition that Nabokov had) and “literary” synesthesia, or metaphorical synesthesia—a quite preeminent term in literary studies. Nabokov’s “case” is a very interesting one, as he is a writer whose neural synesthesia is established, and whose texts teem with examples of literary synesthesia—with, however, very few actual references to forms of neurological synesthesia. The aim of this chapter is to see whether one can draw a parallel between Nabokov’s brain condition and his writing. If the connection can seem obvious on a general basis, this chapter aims at showing that the specific issue of synesthesia is not so self-evident, especially in its connection with metaphor, and notably in erotic scenes. The heightened presence of sensory and sensual modalities in these particular texts provides a fitting ground for such an investigation.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie Bouchet
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ToulouseToulouseFrance

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