Teaching LOLITA Today

Submitted by dana_dragunoiu on Mon, 07/02/2018 - 06:46

 

From Eric Naiman:

For those of us who teach or admire Lolita, Anne Dwyer (Pomona College) has published an eloquent defense of the novel.

https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2018/05/14/teaching-lolita-still-appropriate-opinion

 

That’s a shame...

I’m curious whether this type of article (no matter how good) can change someone’s opinion. I wish I knew how the class reacted to this follow up.

Has anyone here ever been “against” Lolita? What changed your mind, if not the text itself?

Alain

From Brian Boyd:

I must confess I turned to Anne Dwyer’s article enthusiastically (even before Eric's post), because I find it harder and harder to teach Lolita to my students, but I was disappointed.

Part of the problem of teaching Lolita, isn’t it, is that many student readers nowadays fixate on Humbert’s perversion and evil to the exclusion of all else in the novel, as if the fact that Hermann Karlovich was a murderer made everything else in Despair irrelevant or immaterial or uninteresting; yet Lolita is so many dimensions ampler than Despair.

But if we do stick to Humbert’s predilections and behavior, and think in terms of the harm the book could cause, being about those predilections and that behavior from the inside, one of the strongest claims on behalf of Lolita, surely, is that sex abuse therapists find it so valuable, so insightful, so genuinely therapeutic, such a clear way of showing the psychology of an abuser. See the attached article by Lucia Willians, and note her references to the work of Sokhna Fall.

Another way of looking at Lolita is in terms of content. It deals with things that we value so much, including desire and love and beauty, in ways that are outrageous. But it is the cost of having capacities for desire and love and an appetite for beauty that they can go wrong, and that’s what makes their not going wrong so precious, and why we should be attuned to false claims to these positives.

Another way of looking at the Lolita problem is in terms of the challenge to readers, the benefit for readers. One of the most important things in human life is freedom, including freedom from manipulation, from unfair and false persuasion and pressure, and from oppression. Humbert tries to manipulate and pressure us as he has manipulated Lolita. We need to learn to resist. Lolita is the supreme exercise in literature of the challenge of reading against the character narrating. That’s partly a technical challenge for the author, and a “technical” and moral challenge for readers. Why would we want a fugitive and cloistered virtue?

I agree with this defense and would go even further to say, that the book is in itself and exploration of how and why the vulnerable and weak are victimized by the strong and respectable. "Reading between the lines" is a "life skill" that Nabokov encouraged.

Suellen Stringer-Hye

To Brian Boyd:

Your post speaks to a lot of what I feel.  The bad of my having been treated like someone's "little Lolita" in late childhood in the 1950s (no small thing by far) is a completely different realm from the good of reading the book Lolita for reasons like what you describe, Brian, to the point that I've rarely explicitly connected the two realms, but did experience the lifelong pleasures of musing about uncanny magic in literature (never so much a scholar of that as you and others who post here, but not knowing as much still has had its pleasures because of the greatness of that book as a good wonderful thing that did not harm me but only brought me good and riches).  Nothing spoiled my ability to be enriched and fascinated forever by Lolita, and if anything, the bad I experienced was given some relief by that book and the likes of that book, beautiful, hilarious, and wrenching. The area of life to more fully address for me the seriously bad I experienced is a different kind. And yet another area, as an educator I found what Anne Dwyer wrote interesting and somewhat useful, at least in bringing up the pedagogical topic and initiating discussion of it. As a reader, educator, as a person generally in life not even solely regarding engaging with literature, but overall, I found what you wrote more edifying. I haven't had a chance to read the Williams paper you attached, but I shall. 

Barrie Karp

To clarify, I meant that last post with the photograph as response to the NY Times article Suellen posted that emphasized controlling and jealous behavior, kinds of emotional abuse that can exist also without sexual abuse. One is likely to encounter such behavior in this world with or without having experienced sexual abuse, and drawn to such persons for other reasons, the bad coming along with the good and taking time and yielding hunger to figure it out.  

Link sent by Suellen Stringer-Hye: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/11/health/domestic-violence-abusive-relationships.html

Barrie Karp

Brian Boyd is as always perspicuous and generous.  I would suggest also that while we struggle (if we do) to see that readers understand Nabokov didn't condone perversion and sexual exploitation, that Lolita subtly but entirely condemns his obsessed protagonist, that Nabokov was not indifferent to the sufferings of his victim, it is in a sense beside the point.  Nabokov's crime -- if it is a crime -- lies not in condoning or indulging sexual perversion and its expression, but in indulging his own power to inveigle us into sharing it:  and for no more moral a reason, either, than to show that he ccould.  For that there can be no excuse; nor, I think, would Nabokov want one made.

John Crowley

Dear Nabokovians, Has the debate around reading, teaching or writing about Lolita changed that much since the novel first came out more than sixty years ago? I wonder. There are still those who, for ethical reasons, keep arguing that the novel can only have a bad influence on society, on the students invited to read it especially, and should therefore be put only with caution on the academic syllabus or kept out of it completely. With the present post-Weinstein movements, Lolita is often, too often, considered as a dirty book. I suspect that if a writer like Borges’ Pierre Ménard were to try and publish it as a first edition today, he would be unable to find a publisher for it, even in France. On the other hand, there are those, most of us, who keep praising the novel for its sublime poetic dimension and insist that art transcends ethics. Though, as Anne Dwyer convincingly explains, teaching the novel may be more difficult than it was forty years ago, I must point out that I was personally forbidden, as early as 1976, to teach Lolita at the junior level at the Sorbonne. I taught Lolita at the undergraduate level only at San Diego State in the eighties, and, despite all the precautions I took, I encountered some difficulties, but they were minor, probably because I was French and only a visitor on the campus. In France, I taught the book only at the graduate level, feeling on safer grounds with more mature and better educated students. Brian Boyd says he was disappointed by Anne Dwyer’s article, but I have a feeling that his views are not so different from hers. Both agree that Humbert is a perverse, “a cruel wretch”, and Lolita his victim; that Nabokov shouldn’t be confused with his protagonist and never committed the evil deeds he describes in his novel; that art transcends ethics (though they refrain from openly saying so). Yet I tend to have some reservation about his following statement: “One of the most important things in human life is freedom, including freedom from manipulation, from unfair and false persuasion and pressure, and from oppression. Humbert tries to manipulate and pressure us as he has manipulated Lolita. We need to learn to resist. Lolita is the supreme exercise in literature of the challenge of reading against the character narrating.” I agree with him that, when teaching, one should remind the students that Humbert’s behavior in the real world is morally and legally unacceptable, but does it mean that one should give a clinical reading of the novel? He might almost give the impression of suggesting that when he calls the therapists to the rescue: “one of the strongest claims on behalf of Lolita, surely, is that sex abuse therapists find it so valuable, so insightful, so genuinely therapeutic, such a clear way of showing the psychology of an abuser. See the attached article by Lucia Williams, and note her references to the work of Sokhna Fall.” Following his advice, I read Williams’ interesting article and came across the following passage: “why is it again that we cannot use the term love when child sexual abuse is concerned? It is not excessive morality as pedophiles criticize, but what is at stake is the inequality of power: an adult who is in a relationship of responsibility or trust (…) ultimately takes advantage of a child who is still developing – solely to gratify or satisfy the adult’s needs.” What other terms, except perversion or sexual greed, can be used to label Humbert’s passion for Lolita? I agree, of course, with her moral and legal approach to this difficult problem. Years ago, I ran a creative writing workshop in Grasse prison; the only prisoners who agreed to participate were sexual offenders, and more specifically “pointeurs”, pedophiles. I never tried to make them write about their personal experience, but many of them felt the urge to do it and often insisted that they truly loved the girls they had intercourse with, or that they did it with their full consent, which wasn’t always the case, I am sure. Each time, I used the same arguments as William does in her article to tell them that it was ethically and legally wrong to have sexual intercourse with children and young teenagers but I usually failed to convince them. Yet, Humbert did love Lolita. Nabokov does his best to underline that, especially in the Coalmont chapter. As Samuel Johnson said in his dictionary, the novel as a literary genre is “a small tale, generally of love.” Modern novelists since Guilleragues, Defoe and Richardson have endeavored to present a wide spectrum of the different brands and shades of love and of a large range of perversions that often accompany them; and Nabokov contributed to this age-old enterprise perhaps more than any other novelist, as I have tried to show both in my Lacanian study, Nabokov ou la cruauté du désir (Champ Vallon, 2004), and in my essay on the poetic dimension of desire in his novels, Nabokov’s Eros or the Poetics of Desire (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014), a totally different book. Lolita isn’t an autobiography but a work of fiction – even if the highly unreliable and somewhat unbalanced narrator of my latest novel, Le Rapt de Lolita (Orizons, 2018), argues that it is the autobiography of a close friend of his in Paris and endeavors to show that Nabokov stole his manuscript. What I mean here (not in my novel) is that the criteria to judge Humbert and the book itself can’t be only those I used with the “pointeurs”, the participants in my creative writing workshop. Lolita is a moving tragedy, not only for Humbert who is tortured by his perverse sexual desire for young girls and eventually grows to conceive genuine love for Lolita, but also to some extent for Nabokov himself whose figure remains omnipresent in the book. He is one of the discursive actants of the novel, not only through John Ray’s foreword and his afterword – genuine “thresholds” of Humbert’s confession which are now part of the novel itself. One must bear in mind that Nabokov wrote the article published in the Anchor Review, “On a Book Entitled Lolita”, at a time when the novel still remained unpublished in the States, and only months after it was actually banned in France. Later, he insisted that it be inserted in the subsequent editions of his novel and for obvious reasons: he refused to be confused with his perverse protagonist and narrator, and wished to proclaim his eminent esthetic ambitions. Reading Lolita without taking into account Humbert’s countless signs of bad faith in the body of the novel, along with the author’s repeated attempts, inside the text or at its outskirts, to affirm his moral values and prompt us to read the novel in consequence, amounts in my opinion to misreading it. That’s how the poetic web of sense is woven in this marvelous book. This has nothing to do with intentional fallacy. I would be surrendering to this fallacy if I were to judge the novel only with the criteria underlined by Nabokov in the afterword and his many subsequent statements. One must study the novel in all its complexity and ambiguity: as the confession of a tormented and cruel pedophile who feels at once guilty for what he has done but still cherishes the experience as his poetic text testifies, and who not only abused a little girl, but believes or wants to believe (not totally with bad faith) that she seduced him, children being capable of that (not that we should forgive their abusers, I repeat); as a genuine love story on his part; as a tragedy of desire, of the cruelty of desire; as a textbook study of pedophilia (why not?); as a poetic work aiming to show that art may transcend ethics, even though it has a certain degree of social responsibility, etc. etc. Only an empathic cum critical approach to the novel can begin to give us access to its incredible depth. Limiting oneself to one single of these (and other) options amounts to showing a lack of respect for Nabokov’s immense achievement. That’s why, of course, teaching the novel constitutes such a tremendous challenge! Gilles Deleuze once wrote that “one can’t say a thing and its meaning at the same time.” This remains true even of such a tyrannical author as Vladimir Nabokov.

Maurice Couturier 33.0493602878

 

 

On the subject of misreading: I'm not sure we agree on the meaning of Brian's message.

"But if we do stick to Humbert’s predilections and behavior, and think in terms of the harm the book could cause..."

Maurice, much of your message, which I enjoyed (thanks for sharing your experience with the Grasse prison workshop), seems to hang on the above sentence, and even your matryoshka dolls of doubt ("might almost give the impression of suggesting") don't stack up against Brian's conditional — big if!

I'm not sure I understand in which way Brian was "disappointed," and I wonder whether that's a source of confusion for others here as well.

Brian, were you disappointed with Dwyer's conclusions? Or were you disappointed with what you learned, e.g. about the attitude of the students?

Alain

 

 

I agree with much of this. I've heard numerous people on the BBC and on NPR talk about how when the book is taught it should be emphasized that the story is about a man who rapes a little girl, as if it were necessary always to morally underpin everything so that one can take a socially ameliorating from lesson from it; as if John Ray Jr.'s introduction hadn't parodied this shallow view to the point of utter absurdity. The author Martin Amis has called the book and Nabokov's ouevre in general that dread academic term "problematic." The problem is that the arts are still largely considered a platform for healthy and helpful "messages". For these kinds of readers or film viewers or conossieurs of paintings everything is more or less propaganda. Therefore one might as well plump for sloganeering and positive portrayals of "the other", the right socially oppressed "other" that is--and anything else be damned; even the ancient past must yet again be re-evaluated and found incorrect. I've actually heard academics suggest with moral disdain that Plato victimized his young male students!  It's the new form of prissy bourgeois idealism. It's like the old style religious hypocrisy which informed the era of the Hollywood Production Code after 1932. You could not have a married couple cheat on each other or divorce; a criminal was not allowed to go unpunished as this would promote ungodly, extra-legal behavior on the part of the lower orders. Anything real, raw, complicated, human, true, ambiguous, had to be eradicated and papered over with fake solutions which squared everything in socially acceptable ways. Pedophilia has become radioactive in our times, considered worse than murder; social convention demands the children be viewed as spiritually destroyed victims who may have caught the pedophilia bug themselves in some cases. It has been officially decreed that there can be no genuine feelings between child and adult. Any sort of romance between them is seen as an aspect of the pedophile's manipulative "grooming," which merely serves to victimize the prey over again by telling them that whatever they may feel, whatever they've been told is totally untrue and that now they are damaged goods. It's disgusting. Nabokov's art doesn't descend to such inhumane generalizations; forces the reader to split those hairs, look beyond blame, beyond right and wrong to the strangeness of what it means to be a thinking, feeling person in a world we don't really understand, where we are plagued by emotions and needs which don't always fit the easy categorization of middle class notions of normality. Society insists that everything really is simple, that all behavior does fit into those clear cut categories. If it's deemed illegal for an adult to have sexual congress with a person under eighteen years of age, it's rape. The individual circumstances don't matter; whatever the victim may have wanted is ipso facto a delusion because they're not the powerful partner, the adult. Yet our experience as youngsters tells us this isn't always the case, that we may actually have wanted what we weren't supposed to want. Lolita keeps that idea in focus, reminds us of how wondrous and frightening the nature of what our private freedoms and our animal desires make possible, which go so far beyond the rules handed down to us by hypocrites that most people simply refuse to acknowledge the simple facts. Lolita is a great and powerful work of art not simply because of its style but because it gives an elaborate evocation of the contradictory states of human consciousness, played out partly as an ornate game satirizing romanticist cliches and partly as a passionate tragedy about how easy it is for almost any of us to be outfoxed by our own self serving myopia when we want something; how thin the line between tenderness and destructive obsession turns out to be when you're walking it. People want to believe that "we" are absolutely nothing like those we demonize; Lolita shows us that because these demons also turn out to be mere mortals this kind of simple mindedness is just a hackneyed lie we tell ourselves to make our own little cruelties go down smoothly to ourselves.

 

The fact some will think the above is a justification for pedophilia only makes my point, I think  

 

It is virtually psychotic that it has to be explained to students that Lolita is about child rape; Humbert says it is, in case one had not noticed. Why does it not have to explained that it is also about murder? As V. S. Pritchett said in one of the first British reviews of the book: "Mr Nabokov's murder is horrible; murder is horrible" (I quote from failing memory from 57 years ago). Why does not every Agatha Christie novel contain a trigger warning for readers that it may contain an account of murder? I scandalised a drift of snowflake psychotherapists the other day by saying I would far rather be sexually abused than murdered.

 

Anthony Stadlen

A Note on Teaching Nabokov’s Lolita

When I retired, after 47 years of college teaching, in the fall of 2016, I could sense that change was in the air and that it was high time for me to sit out the rest of my life on my not overstuffed retirement account. There is no real need to list all of those changes, most of them attributable to younger instructors raised on second-hand Foucault and Lacan, and to a new generation of “woke” students who seemed alert to anything they might find offensive in literary texts; the current debate about allowing open-carry of handguns in Texas university classrooms was, I must admit, also a factor in my decision to quit while I was ahead.

The debate about the “teachability” of Lolita in contemporary college classrooms will continue, I am sure, and I can’t add much to it. My sole experience of teaching Lolita was in a graduate seminar (by far the largest such class I ever taught–succès de scandale!) around the turn of the present century. The expected debates about VN’s narrator came up, though no one suggested that the novel should have not appeared on the extensive reading list.

Here, I want to draw attention to one point, historical and experiential, about the novel and the period in which it appeared. When I was a child in the late 1950s and early 1960s, pornographic works were sold (even in the South!) from paperback racks in newstands and even in pharmacies. An odd and paradoxical practice of the time was to “dress up” literary fiction in salacious covers, and to “dress down” pornography in plain covers with innocent-sounding titles. Some of the period covers of Faulkner’s novels can be seen here:

https://www.google.com/search?q=william+faulkner+paperback+covers&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjJ5tng9rrbAhXIxYMKHTGNAq8Q_AUICygC&biw=1920&bih=985

Here are some contemporary parodies of the style:

http://flavorwire.com/386383/awesome-pulp-paperback-redesigns-of-classic-novels

As for the real “hard stuff” it would probably appear in plainclothes:

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/423549539934850373/

When I was in college later in the 60s, some of us would occasionally go to the aptly named “Fox Drive-In” (about as bad a double entendre as John Ray’s “Poling Prize”)  to watch what would now be called soft-porn movies, tame enough compared with what one can now find on cable or the Internet. One curious practice then was to preface such films with the appearance of a physician, usually a solemn older man wearing a white tunic and one of those headbands with a metal reflector, who would warn the audience that what they were about to see should be construed as cautionary and instructive! I’m not sure about the cautions, but there did seem to be a good bit of instruction involved. A few years later, when I was a graduate student on a university film committee, we showed I Am Curious (Yellow), at the time a very controversial foreign film. As I recall, that rather tedious bit of cinema verité concluded with the couple’s visit to a clinic where they were thoroughly dusted for a bad case of the “crabs”!

I have no doubt that VN was amused by these strange conventions and parodied them in the introduction to Lolita by the eminent John Ray, Jr., Ph.D. The alternate title that Ray presents, The Confession of a White Widowed Male, is a perfect title for a pornographic wolf in woolens that an innocent child like me may have plucked from the rack at Carolina Drugs (a name that now also strikes me as ironic and prescient), purchased, and carefully hidden. The most salacious paperback of my adolescence, passed from hand to grimy hand with dogeared pages, appeared innocent enough, perhaps a travel book or a medical treatise on the prevention of melanoma:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/9710955420364360/?lp=true

The point of this overlong comment is that instructors would be advised to spend a little space on the tempes et mores of the cultural and social values of the periods in which books first appeared. This should apply equally to Lolita and to Huckleberry Finn.

 

I teach at a smallish Christian liberal arts college, where one might expect to find an extra portion of resistance to Lolita, but this has not been my experience. I have taught it five or six times in the last 15 years, including a course a few years ago entirely devoted to it. This January I will be teaching another iteration of that course—technically a Critical Theory course but using Lolita as the main text. An odd irony may be that my students, being a bit more conservative than the average undergrad at State U, have proven well-equipped to fend off HH’s charms. At the same time, they are often unforgiving towards Lolita herself. As their guide, I try to complicate their natural moralistic tendencies as best I can, while also assuring them that it is okay to ENJOY the novel—to savor its delights—while still retaining one’s skepticism. Beyond the plot, we have a lot of fun discovering the historical context which gave birth to the novel, critical reactions, and Lolita’s pop cultural legacy (Amy Fisher, Lana Del Rey, etc). With the exception of a briefly raised eyebrow from a student’s father, I have not had one complaint. We’ll see if I can say that again come next spring.

Matt Roth

 

I agree with much of this. I've heard numerous people on the BBC and on NPR talk about how when the book is taught it should be emphasized that the story is about a man who rapes a little girl, as if it were necessary always to morally underpin everything so that one can take a socially ameliorating from lesson from it; as if John Ray Jr.'s introduction hadn't parodied this shallow view to the point of utter absurdity. The author Martin Amis has called the book and Nabokov's ouevre in general that dread academic term "problematic." The problem is that the arts are still largely considered a platform for healthy and helpful "messages". For these kinds of readers or film viewers or conossieurs of paintings everything is more or less propaganda. Therefore one might as well plump for sloganeering and positive portrayals of "the other", the right socially oppressed "other" that is--and anything else be damned; even the ancient past must yet again be re-evaluated and found incorrect. I've actually heard academics suggest with moral disdain that Plato victimized his young male students!  It's the new form of prissy bourgeois idealism. It's like the old style religious hypocrisy which informed the era of the Hollywood Production Code after 1932. You could not have a married couple cheat on each other or divorce; a criminal was not allowed to go unpunished as this would promote ungodly, extra-legal behavior on the part of the lower orders. Anything real, raw, complicated, human, true, ambiguous, had to be eradicated and papered over with fake solutions which squared everything in socially acceptable ways. Pedophilia has become radioactive in our times, considered worse than murder; social convention demands the children be viewed as spiritually destroyed victims who may have caught the pedophilia bug themselves in some cases. It has been officially decreed that there can be no genuine feelings between child and adult. Any sort of romance between them is seen as an aspect of the pedophile's manipulative "grooming," which merely serves to victimize the prey over again by telling them that whatever they may feel, whatever they've been told is totally untrue and that now they are damaged goods. It's disgusting. Nabokov's art doesn't descend to such inhumane generalizations; forces the reader to split those hairs, look beyond blame, beyond right and wrong to the strangeness of what it means to be a thinking, feeling person in a world we don't really understand, where we are plagued by emotions and needs which don't always fit the easy categorization of middle class notions of normality. Society insists that everything really is simple, that all behavior does fit into those clear cut categories. If it's deemed illegal for an adult to have sexual congress with a person under eighteen years of age, it's rape. The individual circumstances don't matter; whatever the victim may have wanted is ipso facto a delusion because they're not the powerful partner, the adult. Yet our experience as youngsters tells us this isn't always the case, that we may actually have wanted what we weren't supposed to want. Lolita keeps that idea in focus, reminds us of how wondrous and frightening the nature of what our private freedoms and our animal desires make possible, which go so far beyond the rules handed down to us by hypocrites that most people simply refuse to acknowledge the simple facts. Lolita is a great and powerful work of art not simply because of its style but because it gives an elaborate evocation of the contradictory states of human consciousness, played out partly as an ornate game satirizing romanticist cliches and partly as a passionate tragedy about how easy it is for almost any of us to be outfoxed by our own self serving myopia when we want something; how thin the line between tenderness and destructive obsession turns out to be when you're walking it. People want to believe that "we" are absolutely nothing like those we demonize; Lolita shows us that because these demons also turn out to be mere mortals this kind of simple mindedness is just a hackneyed lie we tell ourselves to make our own little cruelties go down smoothly to ourselves.

 

The fact some will think the above is a justification for pedophilia only makes my point, I think 

 

On Teaching Lolita

Used to receive complaints, often from abused women. Been a decade easy since the last objection. What that says about how we live now I don’t know.

Not a News Flash that it’s a tricky novel to pin down morally. Below is a fragment from the early champion Dorothy Parker. Seems all wrong to me, but Parker was nobody’s fool, so goes to show. 

"She is a dreadful little creature, selfish, hard, vulgar, and foul-tempered.  He knows that he knows all of what she is.  That the knowledge cannot turn away his obsession with her is his agony.” 

Don

Adding a forewarning to a work, prior to its teaching, amounts to a concession towards easily hurt feelings. Not too many years back I was chided by a university professor for an online course who felt I was taking liberties with a fellow student since I made an appellation joke about her "bubbly" personality. She was from Champaign, Illinois. To give in to the ever restrictive mundane is to relinquish academic integrity. 

Trust me (why should we?), I was escorted off of a Catholic high school's campus because of my libertine lionisms. Because? For multiple cardinal literary sins. My students said the word "whore" when reading and horror! acting parts of The Crucible. When I said, "It's in the play!" the principal replied, "They can read it, but they can't say it." You can't make this stuff up. 

Worse became worser when a Speech Quiz on Rhetorical Terms I created was produced. The question in question, which IS what this question is all about, had to with a speaker's reception: Is Ethos a problem for Jeffrey Dahmer giving a speech to necrophiliacs? Yes or No? Most of the students got this wrong. [For those not in the know, Jeffrey Dahmer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin's infamous fame was, in addition to other sordid things, those a sorted heads in his refrigerator been. Let us not . . . think about it. Now there's a novel! "Anyone, anyone?"] When confronted by the same palpating principal as to why this question was even valid, I replied that it was an absurd example to prove a point. 

What had I done wrong? S - E - X. Sex is the prime no-no for Puritanical America. Violence is a-ok and sex is never ever ok. Forget about the implicit connections between inhibited sex and pornography, rape, abuse and prostitution. Again, as others have duly noted, we do NOT subscribe to any approval or condonement of these deviant activities. Literature though does and MUST examine deviant behavior. 

It is the pitfall of Lolita that, due to its writing, many readers fail to get its full impact by being swayed by Humbert Humbert. They do not get all the other messages flying off the pages, starting right away with the Foreword of all the clever deceits of Humbert Humbert, Clarence Choate Clark, Esq., Vivian Darkbloom and John Ray, Jr. In short, far too many readers do not know how to read "closely." They do not understand the euphemisms (Miss Euphemia Phalen) contained in the novel that gloss over the ill-omens. They MISS the points and FAILen. Unfortunately, the best satire comes across as not a satire at all.

So this old bird offers no concessions to the easily bruised, easily offended, current political correctness. That atmosphere continues to restrict every freedom of academic breath. Lolita is to be taught in all its intricate and beautiful complexity. One of the key benefits in teaching Lolita is to finally teach readers how to read. A learning experience in itself.

To say that Lolita softens or mitigates pedophilia is akin to stating that The Master and Margarita glorifies the devil. For both of these (and defacto for all) masterful novels, the Devil is always in the details.

Best from Sharon, WI, USA

P.S.

Remember, "Manuscripts never burn."

Madame Véra and Monsieur Woland would agree!