Agnès Edel-Roy (Université de Paris-Est Créteil) contributes an essay, “Eutopia in Ada, or the Aesthetic Reconfiguration of Twentieth-Century Political History: Vladimir Nabokov’s souci d’eau against Vladimir Lenin’s Electricity,” where she argues that, in Ada, the testing of the values of art emerges by way of the aesthetic proposal for a reconfiguration of political history in which electricity and water clash. In Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Ada, or Ardor (1969), Eutopia means the “good place”, that is “a place of felicity where all is well” (Abensour). For Edel-Roy, this question is related to the question of the power of authentic art in its confrontation with the ideologies of the twentieth century (including Leninism) and their consequences on individual freedom. She proposes to interpret the banning of electricity on Antiterra as the manifestation of Nabokov's anti-determinism and anti-Leninism. Their replacement by water signifies the writer’s aesthetic resistance, emblematised by a Rimbaldian and Nabokovian wild flower, the souci d’eau. In connection with Nabokov’s beloved plot of land and the river Oredezh of his Russian past, water, omnipresent in Ada, might be conceived as a eutopic current that dissolves fixed representations and symbolizes the confidence in the ability of authentic art to restore a vivid and vital communication between individuals.
Eutopia in Ada, or the Aesthetic Reconfiguration of Twentieth-Century Political History: Nabokov’s souci d’eau against Vladimir Lenin’s Electricity
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Online Journal