On the Panoptical Eye of Self-Caring in Nabokov’s The Eye: A Foucauldian Analysis
AbstractNabokov’s protagonist’s sufferings, suicide, and final happiness in The Eye (1930) can be analyzed through Foucault’s policy of the “care of the self” based on which an individual acts in a parrhesiastic relationship with himself to panoptically watch and discover himself. Smurov’s first-person I/eye sacrifices his former self to be reborn from the surveying eyes of his separated self. This Panopticon metaphor is bifurcated into the monopticon and the synopticon, the former letting Smurov externally watch over himself and the latter reflecting back to him others’ views of him. Thus, Smurov recognizes the true nature of his identity to be the sum of his concept of himself and his reflections in others’ minds. He recognizes that he is always being panoptically watched and created. His final happiness, therefore, emphasizes that identity stands in a symbiotic relationship with the surveillance of the self, without which the individual stays in darkness.
Boyd, B. (1990). Vladimir Nabokov: the Russian years. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Carrette, J. (2000). Foucault and religion. London: Routledge.
Connolly, J. W. (1991). Madness and doubling: from Dostoevsky's The Double to Nabokov’s The Eye. Russian Literature Triquarterly, 24, 129-39.
Connolly, J. W. (1999). Nabokov’s (re)visions of Dostoevsky. In J. W. Connolly (Ed.), Nabokov and his fiction: New perspectives (pp. 141-157). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dolinin, A. (2005). Nabokov as a Russian writer. In J. W. Connolly (Ed.), Cambridge companion to Nabokov (pp. 49-64). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Flower, D. N. (1987 Spring). Nabokov’s private eye. The Hudson Review, 40(1), 165-171.
Foster Jr., J. B. (1993). Nabokov’s art of memory and European modernism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Foucault, M. (1990). Critical theory/intellectual history. In L. Kritzman (Ed.), Michel Foucault: politics, philosophy, culture: Interviews and other writings 1977-1984 (pp. 17-46), translated by A. Sheridan & others. London: Routledge.
Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison, translated by A. Sheridan. New York: Vintage.
Foucault, M. (1997). Ethics, Subjectivity and truth. Paul Robinow (Ed); translated by Robert Hurley & others. New York: The New Press.
Foucault, M. (2001). Fearless speech. (J. Pearson, Ed.). Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).
Foucault, M. (1996). The ethics of the concern for the self as a practice of freedom. In S. Lotringer (Ed.), Foucault live: collected interviews 1961-1984 (pp. 432-449). New York: Semiotext(e).
Four to Doomsday. (1982). Dr. who: Season 19, episodes 5-8. [DVD]. (Terence Dudley, Writ). (John Black, Dir.). BBC One.
Govedić, N. (2001). When the eye refuse to blind itself: Nabokov’s writings on literature. Slavica Tergestina, 9, 235-264.
Grishakova, M. (2012). The models of space, time and vision in V. Nabokov’s fiction: Narrative strategies and cultural frames. Tartu: Tartu University Press.
Jacobs, K. (2001). The eye’s mind: Literary modernism and visual culture. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Johnson, D. B. (1985). The books reflected in Nabokov's Eye. Slavic and East European Journal, 29.4, 393-404.
Johnson, D. B. (1997). The butterfly in Nabokov’s Eye. The Eye Nabokov Studies, 4, 1-14.
Johnson, D. B. (1995). The Eye. In V. E. Alexandrov (Ed.), The Garland Companion to Vladimir Nabokov (pp. 130-135). New York: Garland.
Karges, J. (1985). Nabokov's lepidoptera: Genres and genera. Ann Arbor: Ardis.
Mathieson, T. (1997). The viewer society: Michel Foucault’s ‘panopticon’ revisited. Theoretical Criminology: An International Journal, 1(2), 215-232.
McGushin, E. (2011). Foucault’s theory and practice of subjectivity. In Diana Taylor (Ed.), Michel Foucault: Key concepts (pp. 127-142). Durham: Acumen.
Mendieta, E. (2011). The practice of freedom. In Diana Taylor (Ed.), Michel Foucault: Key concepts (pp. 111-124). Durham: Acumen.
Mohanu, F. (2001). Aspects of identity in Vladimir Nabokov’s novels. Dialogos,3, 80-82.
Nabokov, V. (1990). The Eye (Kindle Edition). New York: Vantage Books.
O’Day, A. (2011, April 8). “I spy, with my little eye”: surveillance and space in Doctor Who. The Politics of Television Space’ Symposium. Univer-sity of Leicester. Retrieved from http://www. hrvt.net/andrewoday/space.htm.
Reber, A. S. (1985). Dictionary of psychology. London: Penguin Books.
Rutledge, D. (2011). Nabokov’s permanent mystery: the expression of metaphysics in his work. London: McFarland & Company Inc. Publishers.
Rylkova, G. (2002). Okrylyonnyy Soglyadatay– the winged eavesdropper: Nabokov and Kuzmin. In D. H. J. Larmour (Ed.), Discourse and ideology in Nabokov’s prose (pp. 43-58). London: Routledge.
Schaeffer, S. F. (1972). The editing blinks of Vladimir Nabokov’s The Eye. The University of Windsor Review, 8.1, 5-30.
Stone, B.E. (2011). Subjectivity and truth. In Dianna Taylor (Ed.), Michel Foucault: Key concepts (pp. 143-157). Durham: Acumen.
Straumann, B. (2008). Figurations of exile in Hitchcock and Nabokov. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Taylor, D. (Ed.). (2011). Michel Foucault: Key concepts. Durham: Acumen.
Toker, L. (1999). “The dead are good mixers”: Nabokov’s versions of individualism. In J. W. Connolly (Ed.), Nabokov and his fiction: New perspectives (pp. 92-108). Cambridge: Cam-bridge University Press.
Vintges, K. (2011). Freedom and spirituality. In Dianna Taylor (Ed.), Michel Foucault: Key concepts (pp. 99-110). Dyrham: Acumen.
Wyllie, B. (2010). Vladimir Nabokov. London: Reaktion Books Ltd.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License