Vladimir Nabokov:
Science Fiction, Artificial Languages, Ars Combinatoria,
Narrative Structure, Martin Gardner, Play:
An Arbitrary Bibliography

Compiled by Ralph Dumain

                        I feel I understand
Existence, or at least a minute part
Of my existence, only through my art,
In terms of combinational delight;
And if my private universe scans right,
So does the verse of galaxies divine
Which I suspect is an iambic line.

       — Pale Fire, Canto Four, 970-976

Other mentions of ‘combinational’:


Knowing Shade’s combinational turn of mind and subtle sense of harmonic balance, I cannot imagine that he intended to deform the faces of his crystal by meddling with its predictable growth.


Line 596: Points at the puddle in his basement room

Shade composed these lines on Tuesday, July 14th. What was Gradus doing that day? Nothing. Combinational fate rests on its laurels.

Lines 727-728: No, Mr. Shade … just half a shade

Another fine example of our poet’s special brand of combinational magic.

Braffort, Paul. Nabokov oulipien.... 2002.

Corn, Peggy Ward. “'Combinational Delight': The Uses of Story within a Story in Pale Fire,” Journal of Narrative Technique, Winter 1987, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 83- 90.

Grishakova, Marina. The Models of Space, Time and Vision in V. Nabokov’s Fiction: Narrative Strategies and Cultural Frames. Tartu: University of Tartu, 2012. (Tartu Semiotics Library; 5)

Karshan, Thomas. Nabokov and Play. Volume One. DPhil Thesis, Christ Church, Oxford UniversityTrinity, 2006.

Razumova, Lyudmila L. Literary Bilingualism as Cosmopolitan Practice: Vladimir Nabokov, Samuel Beckett, and Nancy Huston. Dissertation abstract.

Swanson, Roy Arthur. “Nabokov's Ada as Science Fiction,” Science Fiction Studies, # 5 (Volume 2, Part 1), March 1975.

Multimedia Commentary

Fugue No. 4: C-Sharp minor: Well-Tempered Clavier Book II (Bach fugue, with commentary, also on Nabokov)


Hale-Evans, Ronald. Zemblan: a vocab and references. Conlang Mailing List (conlang@buphy.bu.edu), 26 July 1991.

Kellman, Steven G. The Translingual Imagination. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. Chapter 5: Nabokov and the Psychomorphology of Zemblan, pp. 63-72. (Book also mentions Esperanto.) Publisher description.

Krueger, John R. “Nabokov's Zemblan: A Constructed Language of Fiction,” Linguistics: An International Review, Volume 5, Issue 31, May 1967, pp. 44-49.

Meyer, Priscilla. “Etymology and Heraldry: Nabokov's Zemblan Translations: A bot on the Nabokov Escutcheon,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 29, no. 4, Winter 1987,  pp. 432-441.

Peterson, Ronald E. “Zemblan: Nabokov's Phony Scandinavian Language,” Vladimir Nabokov Research Newsletter, no. 12, Spring 1984, pp. 29-37.

Voss, Manfred; Meyer, Priscilla (reply). “How Not to Read Zemblan,” The Nabokovian, Fall 1990, 25, pp. 41-49.


The mysteries of Zembla, by Andrea Pitzer, March 1, 2013, The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov.

Entering Nova Zembla” by George Szirtes, The Hungarian Quarterly, volume XLVII, no. 184, Winter 2006; with other Nova Zembla poems in The Burning of the Books and Other Poems (Bloodaxe, 2014).

Before We Thaw” by Tom Gilliver, in The Graft (Salt Publishing, 2012).

Martin Gardner

Inventions: Martin Gardner and Vladimir Nabokov, reply by Matthew Hodgart, The New York Review of Books, July 10, 1969.

Roberts, David Lindsay. WFF ‘N PROOF and the climate for Mathematical Recreations in the 1950s and 60s. Prepared for meeting of History and Pedagogy of Mathematics –Americas Section, March 14, 2010, Washington, DC.

Other Games

Moran, Ashley. “Nabokov's Dozen: A Board Game,” NOJ / НОЖ: Nabokov Online Journal, Vol. II / 2008.


The Ambidextrous Universe
The Defense 
The Gift
Pale Fire
Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle
Transparent Things
Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov bibliography

Stories by Vladimir Nabokov

Symbols and Signs,” The New Yorker, May 15, 1948.

"Transparent Things".


Nabokov Web Sites

Zembla web site

Nabokov en Esperanto

El Kosmo Vidas Mi Nenion” de Ludmila Silnova

La poemo-maŝino” de Bertram Potts (“Nova Zemblo”)

Vladimir Nabokov - Vikipedio

Muziko,” tradukis Grigori Arosev, en Rusaj amnoveloj (Jekaterinburg: Sezonoj, 2000), p. 19-22. (Rusa Literaturo; 7)

Pala Fajro, tradukis/adaptis Meva Maron, La Kromkancerkliniko, n-ro 7 (suplemento al La Kancerkliniko, n-ro 52, 1989)

(Ŝlosilvortoj: sciencfikcio, artefaritaj lingvoj, ars combinatoria, kombinatoriko, rakonta strukturo, Martin Gardner, ludo)

el Pala Fajro, Kvara Kanto, 970-976

       tradukis Meva Maron:
       tradukis R. Dumain:
                Mi sentas min kompreni
l’ ekziston, aŭ almenaŭ etan parton
de mia ekzistado, nur ĉar arton
esprimas kombinatorika rav’;
do se validas mia skanda prav’
de l’ mond’ privata, ankaŭ l’ univers’
sonoras ĝuste, laŭ mia jamba vers’.
    Mi sentas pri Ekzisto la komprenon, 
Eble de Ekzisto nu parteton, 
Nur per mia arto, mia vojo
de kombinatoriko mia ĝojo;
Kaj se privata kosmo prave skandas
Do mi pri galaksi-versaro pravas:
Ĝi die laŭ supozo jambe ravas. 

Mathematical Games: Counting Systems and the Relationship between Numbers and the Real World
[Excerpt] by Martin Gardner

Homage to Martin Gardner (October 21, 1914 – May 22, 2010)
Mathematical Games Web Links

Martin Gardner, Mathematical Games, & the Fourth Dimension
(web guide & bibliography)

Algorithmic Puzzles: Selected Bibliography

Ars Combinatoria Study Guide

Philosophical and Universal Languages, 1600-1800, and Related Themes: Selected Bibliography

Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress

Esperanto & Interlinguistics Study Guide / Retgvidilo pri Esperanto & Interlingvistiko


ars combinatoria @ Ĝirafo

Vladimir Nabokov @ Ĝirafo

Martin Gardner @ ‘Reason & Society’ blog

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Uploaded 28 June 2013
Last update 14 December 2021
Previous update 23 November 2021

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