Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000215, Sun, 27 Feb 1994 17:03:52 -0800

VN Bibliography
Some weeks ago Clarence Brown forwarded a couple of bibliography
items to the list. Both volumes concern synaesthesia or colored hearing
which VN uses as a basis for an elaborate metaphor for his bi-lingual
creative life in chapter II of his autobiography (the synaesthetic rainbow
motif). The two books, one popular and one quite technical, are by Richard
E. Cytowic. The popular one, (I do not have the title at hand) was
lambasted in a NYTBR review several weeks ago by M. Gazzaniga, a well
known specialist in brian research. I have just browsed the more
technical volume, entitled _Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses_
(Springer-Verlang: New York, 1989) and pass along a brief description for
any one who might be interested.
The book is a curious mixture of case histories (some quite
interesting), dense neuropsychological data and theorizing, and
semi-flakey New Age stuff about erasing the boundaries between the
creative arts and hard science. Although the latter part of the volume is
devoted to synaesthesia and artistic creativity, the discussion is mostly
restricted to music and the visual arts. Nabokov (who is described as a
Soviet writer) is mentioned only in passing. (See his name in the index.)
Nonetheless, the volume is not without appeal to readers of Nabokov who
are especially interested in synaesthesia. (I recall that a doctoral
disertation about the cultural history of synaesthesia currently underway
at Brandeis [?] devotes a chapter to Nabokov.) Cytowic's book has an
impressive bibliography.

D. BArton Johnson