Nabokov and Wenders: Lost Landscapes and Found Meaning in the Age of the Sign Economy

  • Rhys Griffiths University College London


Protest as David Andrews might against the 'misperception' of Vladimir Nabokov as 'the postmodern author par excellence', claiming Nabokov as 'premodernist in outlook' (63), there is one sense in which Nabokov cannot escape the 'postmodern' label identified by Fredric Jameson. Jameson defines postmodernism, in part, as:

A periodizing concept whose function is to correlate the emergence of new formal features in culture with the emergence of a new type of social life and a new economic order - what is often euphemistically called modernization, postindustrial or consumer society, the society of the media or the spectacle, or multinational capitalism ('Postmodernism and Consumer Society' 1962).

Adopting Jameson's dating of this 'new moment of capitalism' to 'the postwar boom in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s' (1962), this essay opens with an assertion of Nabokov as an author subject to, what Andrews terms, certain 'postmodern realities' (63).

The aim of this essay is a study of these postmodern realities as a product of the consumer society and the emergence and maturation of what Pamela Odih calls the 'sign economy' (126) in two texts from 'high epochs' of late capitalism, Nabokov's Lolita (1955) and Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas (1984). Paramount to the argument herein is Jameson's assertion that the 'formal features' of postmodernism (defined by the era of late capitalism) will 'express the deeper logic of that particular system' (1974). However, the first requirement of this introduction is a situating of the chosen texts within what has been termed 'high epochs' of late capitalism.

How to Cite
Griffiths, Rhys. 2010. “Nabokov and Wenders: Lost Landscapes and Found Meaning in the Age of the Sign Economy”. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts, no. 10 (June), 1 - 20.