Nabokov's shadow-line

Kira Alexandra ROSE*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Little to no attention has been paid to the unique presence and meaning of shadows in Vladimir Nabokov's fiction. Nabokov's unconventional treatment of shadows stems from how he perceived them as a synesthete not subject to strict sensory divisions. Nabokov's shadows are material phenomena and also illustrate his relationship to memory, language, writing, and readers, who cannot perceive and therefore do not attend to shadow the same way as he does. Shadow stands in for synesthesia's operations across Nabokov's oeuvre. In The Gift, Nabokov's relation to shadow and problems of communicating his perception through the written line are most pronounced. The following reading of shadow in Nabokov for the first time explores this phenomenon in his writing, as well as how the author uses shadow to expand imagery's possibilities and range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-119
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Modern Literature
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Imagery
  • Perception
  • Shadow
  • Synesthesia
  • Vladimir Nabokov


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