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.


Toker, Leona. Gulag Literature and the Literature of Nazi Camps: An Intercontextual Reading. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Devoted to the ways in which Holocaust literature and Gulag literature provide contexts for each other, the book shows how the prominent features of one shed light on the veiled features and methods of the other. The narratives are discussed against the background of historical information about the Soviet and the Nazi regimes of repression. Writers at the center of this work include Varlam Shalamov, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Ka-Tzetnik, and others including Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Evgeniya Ginzburg, and Jorge Semprun illuminate the discussion. The twofold analysis concentrates on the narrative qualities of the works as well as on the ways in which each text documents the writer’s experience and on the ways in which fictionalized narrative can double as historical testimony. The analysis also comments on references to events that might have become obscure owing to the passage of time and the cultural diversity of readers.

Borschetty, Radek, Bridget Kendle, Daniel Mahoney, Elisa Kriza, and Leona Toker. “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Revealing the Gulag.” BBC World Service, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A program about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.

"On Two of the Lolitas" (in Hebrew).” Dokhak 9 (2018): 191-96.Abstract

Afterword to Dorothy Parker, "Lolita," trans. Aviad Stir.

“Пересмотр понятия «героизм» в рассказах Шаламова [A Reconsideration of the Concept of Heroism in Shalamov’s Stories].”.” In «Закон сопротивления распаду». Особенности прозы и поэзии Варлама Шаламова и их восприятие в начале XXI века., 69-78. Ed. Lukasz Babka, Sergey Soloviev, Valery Esipov, and Ian Makhonin. Prague : Národní knihovna České republiky, 2017.
“Слово о голодном воздержании. «Голодарь» Кафки и «Артист лопаты» Шаламова.” Trans. D. Subbotin,.” In Shalamovskii Sbornik 5, 378–95. ed. V. V. Esipov. Vologda: Common Place, 2017.Abstract

An updated translation of ch. 10, “Discourse of Lent: Kafka's 'A Hunger Artist' and Shalamov's 'The Artist of the Spade,'" of L. Toker Towards the Ethics of Form in Fiction: Narratives of Cultural Remission (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2010).

Varlam Shalamov's Sketches of the Criminal World.” In Born to Be Criminal: The Discourse on Criminality and the Practice of Punishment in Late Imperial Russia and Early Soviet Union, 233-45. Ed. Riccardo Nicolosi and Anne Hartmann. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2017.
The Sample Convention, or, When Fictionalized Narratives Can Double as Historical Testimony.” In Narration as Argument, 123-140. Ed. Paula Olmos. Berlin: Springer, 2017. Publisher's Version
"Afterword." In Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers [in Hebrew].
"Afterword." In Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers [in Hebrew].. Trans. Daphna Rosenbluth. Jerusalem: Carmel, 2017.Abstract

Afterword by Leona Toker