Toker, Leona. “The Issue of “Softening” and the Problem of Addressivity in Solzhenitsyn and Shalamov.” In The Gulag in Writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Varlam Shalamov, ed. Fabian Heffermehl and Irina Karlsohn, 271-288. Leiden: Brill, 2021.
Toker, Leona. “Israel.” In Philip Roth in Context, ed. Maggie McKinley, 150–59. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.
Toker, Leona. “Urban Intelligentsia in A Tale of Two Cities.” In Critical Insights: A Tale of Two Cities, ed. Robert C. Evans, 79–92. Ipswich, MA: Salem House, 2021.
Toker, Leona. “Representation of Jewish Characters in Varlam Shalamov's Kolyma Tales.” The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2021. Publisher's Version
Toker, Leona. “Paralipsis and Intention(ality).” Neohelicon (2021). Publisher's VersionAbstract

When Gérard Genette drew the distinction between “voice” and “focus” in narrative, he pointed to two kinds of deviation from the monitoring of narrative details based on focalization. One is “paralepsis,” that is, giving the reader more information than is available to the focal character; the other is “paralipsis” – giving the reader less information than the focal character possesses. This paper suggests that the content of paralipsis – what the focal character knows but the reader is not told – is often the intentions and concrete plans of the focal character. The paper discusses the ending of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities (1959) as a paradigmatic case: the precise intentions of Sydney Carton are not disclosed to the reader; the second reading is therefore qualitatively different from the first reading; and the intentions of the author (the implied author or even the historical author) for this temporary gap invite interpretation and raise the issue of the reasons and the causes for this feature of the narrative as a communicative act.

Toker, Leona. “Literary Stereography: Nabokov Drawing and Reading Maps.” Partial Answers 19, no. 2 (2021): 361-369. Publisher's VersionAbstract


According to Vladimir Nabokov, exactness of detail in the composition and the reading of literary texts can yield “the sensual spark without which the book is dead”: one needs, for instance, to understand the topography of Mansfield Park in order to respond to Austen’s “stereographic charm.” Speaking after Stuart Gilbert’s chart of the episodes of Joyce’s Ulysses but before Gifford and Seidman’s maps in Ulysses Annotated, Nabokov protested against “the pretentious nonsense of Homeric, chromatic, and visceral chapter headings” and advised careful readers to “prepare maps of Dublin with Bloom’s and Stephen’s intertwining itineraries clearly traced.” Nabokov himself draws maps in his (posthumously published) lecture notes of the 1950s. This paper comments on the “stereographic” implications of his maps and then turns to Nabokov’s biography of Pushkin’s African great grandfather. Studying the possible origins of Abram Gannibal, Nabokov reads maps of Ethiopia. Though his essay is largely a matter of the critique of sources, the course of Ethiopian river-beds seems to give him “the sensual spark” which, despite his vexed insistence on the literal in Ulysses, follows Joyce’s novel in understated transmutation of stereographic detail into symbolism. 


Toker, Leona. “Metaphors of Confinement: The Prison in Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy, by Monika Fludernik.” Partial Answers 19, no. 1 (2021): 192-196. Publisher's VersionAbstract

book review

Toker, Leona. “Richard Tempest, Overwriting Chaos: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Fictive Worlds..” The Russian Review 79, no. 4 (2020): 665-666.Abstract

Book review

Toker, Leona. “Irina Astashkevich, Gendered Violence: Jewish Women in the Pogroms of 1917 to 1921.” Antisemitism Studies 4, no. 2 (2020): 403-407.Abstract

book review

Toker, Leona. “"Bruised Fists": A Shift of Values in Nabokov's Fiction in the Late 1930s.” Krug: Journal of the Vladimir Nabokov Society of Japan 12 (2020): 1-20.Abstract


The work of writers in exile is generally expected to display the theme of nostalgia and the techniques of defamiliarization. It is seldom noted that the experience of a young emigrant is sometimes characterized by bouts of overwhelming poignant happiness, of joy yielded by the senses in response to the natural or even urban scenes. This happiness, against the background of a near-sublime self-sufficiency, is a distinctive feature of Nabokov’s experience of the twenties, despite the painful blows that he received; it is a recurrent theme in his poetry, fiction, and letters. By the late 1930s, for a variety of personal and political reasons, the waves of joy become rare. Instead, Nabokov’s other capacities deepen and gain further development, a modified axiology partly replacing the youthful happiness or compensating for the infrequency of its returns. This paper is devoted to the shift of emphases in Nabokov’s poetics and his thematic concerns after he could no longer base his eschatology on a recurrent experience of joyful oneness with the world.    


Toker, Leona. “Nezakonnaia kometa. Varlam Shalamov: Opyt medlennoto chteniya, by Elena Mikhailik.” Slavic Review 79, no. 2 (2020): 485-486.Abstract

book review

Toker, Leona. “Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. The Red Wheel. Node III: March 1917, Book 2 (book review).” The Russian Review 70, no. 3 (2020): 487-488.Abstract

book review

Yun, Lan, and Leona Toker. “Cultural Remission, Factographic Literature and Ethical Criticism: An Interview with Leona Toker.” Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature 4, no. 1 (2020): 1-18.Abstract

In December 2019, Ms. Lan Yun interviewed Leona Toker during her academic visit to Shanghai Jiao Tong University. In this interview, Toker approaches the concept of cultural remission and Gulag and Holocaust literature from an ethical perspective, exploring the complex relationship between literary forms and their ethical consequences. She claims that ethical criticism is coming back in new ways and that analysis of the ethics of form may take over from that of the ethics of character behavior as a potential orientation for future studies.

Toker, Leona. “Review of Nabokov and Indeterminacy: The Case of the Real Life of Sebastian Knight, by Priscilla Meyer.” Partial Answers 18, no. 1 (2020): 182-85. Publisher's Version
Toker, Leona. ““Student Years, 1968–1973” [a memoir].” In Anglų kalbos slėpinių pavilioti: Prisiminimų kaleidoskopas, 271-92. Ed. Inesa Šeškauskienė and Jonė Grigaliūnienė. Vilnius: Vilnius University Press, 2019.Abstract

Reminiscences of student days at Vilnius University

Toker, Leona. “Nabokov’s Factography.” In Vladimir Nabokov and the Fictions of Memory, 21-50. ed. Irena Księżopolska and Mikołaj Wiśniewski. Warsaw: Fundacja Augusta hr. Cieszkowskiego, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Nabokov’s fictional retrospective first-person narratives rely on the “perfect-memory” convention, which is, however, sometimes laid bare or even subverted. This convention makes no inroads in Nabokov’s factorgraphic narratives, such as Speak, Memory and “Abram Gannibal.” This paper discusses the narrative techniques that replace the “perfect-memory” convention in the “childhood-adolescence-youth” part of Speak, Memory, and the way these techniques relate to Nabokov’s view of the workings of memory, in the context of some his literary and philosophical precursors.                                   


Towards a Literary History of Concentration Camps: Comparative or ‘Entangled’?.” In Narratives of Annihilation, Confinement, and Survival , 13-29. Ed. Anja Tippner and Anna Artwinska. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2019.
Testimony and Fictionality in Georgy Demidov's Gulag Stories.” Partial Answers 17, no. 2 (2019): 299-318. Publisher's Version
Toker, Leona, and Jeremy Hawthorn. “Literature as Time's Witness: Special Issue in Honor of Jakob Lothe. Introduction..” Partial Answers 17, no. 2 (2019): 195-200. Publisher's Version
Literary Reflections of Elitocide: Georgy Demidov and Precursors.” Verbeia 3 (2019): 83-105. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Whereas the killing of the elites, whether as part of genocide, as a bid for enslavement of a community, or as an expression of a social ressentiment, dates back to ancient times, it is owing to the atrocities of the twentieth century that histories of elitocide assembled the critical mass for the concept to emerge. This paper is devoted to literary reflections of elitocide, many of which can likewise be recognized as such only after the phenomenon itself has crystallized in collective memory. Literary treatments of the issue of elitocide includes works by Dostoevsky (The Devils), H. G. Wells (The Time Machine), and Nabokov (Bend Sinister), but my main example is the theme of the destruction of the most talented in the Gulag stories by Georgy Demidov.