Exophonic word and image relations in the work of Yoko Tawada, Vladimir Nabokov and Bruno Schulz
Embargo end date13/01/2024
This thesis explores the relationship between exophony and intermediality in the works of Yoko Tawada, Vladimir Nabokov and Bruno Schulz. All three authors refer to and incorporate images into their texts, while also blurring the distinction between word and image: this is the intermedial dynamic of their work that this thesis analyses. As to exophony, it is commonly used as a term alternative to translingualism and designates writers, who write in a language other than their mother tongue. The starting point of this thesis is that apart from being intermedial, all three authors could be seen as exophone. That said, exophone status might be arguable in the case of Schulz, who wrote primarily in his mother tongue, or even Nabokov, one of the most famous exophones, who growing up with Russian, English and French could not quite designate which language was his first. This is a problematic that echoes this thesis’ approach to exploring the relationship between exophony and intermediality: I investigate the idea that exophony could be seen as a broader phenomenon than its common definition. As Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari suggest, it is possible to be a foreigner in one’s own language, and this is an idea often evoked in the work of Tawada, Nabokov and Schulz. In addition to Deleuze and Guattari, my exploration of exophony and intermediality draws on Tawada’s elaboration of the notion of exophony and relates to Yasemin Yildiz’s destabilization of what she calls the monolingual paradigm. Engaging with the ways in which Tawada, Nabokov and Schulz reflect on issues of identity, the self, ‘nature’ versus culture, the transparency of language, the relation between body and voice, origins, and language as a sign, I show how intermediality can be a strategy used by writers to interrogate some central premises of the monolingual paradigm and question the mother tongue’s ‘naturalness’. One of the aims of this thesis is to explore the idea that intermediality can be a form of exophony.