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Figurations of Exile in Hitchcock and Nabokov

Barbara Straumann

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This book makes an important contribution to cultural analysis by opening up the work of two canonical authors to issues of exile and migration. Barbara Straumann's close reading of selected films and literary texts focuses on Speak, Memory, Lolita, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Suspicion, North by Northwest and Shadow of a Doubt and explores the connections between language, imagination and exile. Invoking psychoanalysis as the principal discourse of dislocation, the book not only uses concepts such as 'screen memory', 'family romance', 'fantasy' and 'the uncanny' as hermeneutic foils, it also argues that, in their own ways, the arch-parodists Hitchcock and Nabokov are remarkably in tune with the images and tropes developed by Freud.

Key Features

  • Brings an entirely new perspective to the work of Hitchcock and Nabokov
  • Discusses psychoanalysis both as a critical approach and as a crucial reference point for the cinematic and literary texts themselves
  • Analyses figurations of exile in different aesthetic media
  • Challenges received notions of postmodern texts as purely playful


Introduction: Cross-mapping Hitchcock and Nabokov
Questions of Exile and Displacement
Home and Exile in Hitchcock and Nabokov
Nabokov's Dislocations: Refiguring Loss and Exile in Speak, Memory
Family Romance
Poetics of Memory
'Aesthetic Bliss' and Its Allegorical Displacements in Lolita
Childhood Romance
Textual Relocations
Language to Infinity
Hitchcock's Wanderings: Inhabiting Feminine Suspicion
Traumatic Fantasy
Family Murder
Aesthetics of Overproximity
Wandering and Assimilation in North by Northwest
Mad Traveller
Oedipal Voyage
Language of Exile and Assimilation
Epilogue: Psychoanalytic Dislocation

About the Author

Barbara Straumann is Lecturer in the English Seminar at the University of Zurich. She is currently working on a book on female performer voices.


Within Nabokov criticism especially, effort has traditionally been concentrated on detective-style exegesis. This study offers a highly interesting alternative that provides a basis for a new area of debate in the future.

- Laurence Piercy, University of Sheffield, European Journal of English Studies (EJES)