NABOKV-L post 0018028, Mon, 23 Mar 2009 00:59:01 -0300

Re: SIGHTING--new essay on Lolita by Francine Prose
J.Aisenberg: I think I prefer Alfred Appel Jr.'s test for pornography [...] I read Ms. Prose's article and thought she seriously underestimated the amount of sleazy sex in the book [...]Now I agree the book isn't smut--neither Nabokov or Humbert do much to describe penetration or lavish direct colloquial attention on specific genital reactions [...] Also if you keep your focus on all the filth Humbert lets fly, it compromises somewhat Humbert Humbert's confession as "love story", which in my opine-ion the book is not.

JM: HH was insane - but he remains a fictional character and not a clinical case-study. In VN's fiction HH suffers ups-and-downs and, once in a while, he has moments of lucidity ( when the filthy part is transformed into something different). His most disturbing fantasies were, for me, his project for engendering a series of Fritzli-babies, a litter of Lolitas. Horribly pervert.
What do you mean by "smut" in relation to "penetration" and "lavish colloquial attention on specific genital reactions"?
There are many unclear issues connected to what is "smut": VN was indignant against Joyce's obscenely detailed renderings of defaecation(SO interviews), although, as far as I can still recollect any of them, they didn't involve or violate other people, nor were they unnatural but, predominantly, physiological. VN's descriptions of solitary practices mainly deal with voyeurism, anality, mirrors ( there's a KQK scene that is reminiscent of the same thing in Gradus...) Genitality is quite explicit in "The Enchanter" (his developments about "bliss"are beautiful!) and ADA ( including an almost poetical anal-penetration in a bathroom).
Anyway, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Artaud, Lautreamont, Bataille must have been familiar authors to Nabokov. And generations before and after them (Ben Sirine must know!) - plus all his readings from Havelock Ellis, Kraft-Ebbing...
We seldom discuss such matters: is this why Ms.Pose and others (including me) often forget all about them? (I'm trying to figure out how important VN's "erotic" scenes are for me - considering the overall landscape of his novels...)

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