NABOKV-L post 0018490, Mon, 3 Aug 2009 14:04:44 -0300

Re: [NABOKOV-L][Tangential Nabokov] Demonic nymphtets: the beauty
and the beast
Dear, alas silent List,

After quoting Humbert Humbert's description of Lolita as "the most mythopoeic nymphet in October's orchard-haze" -- having felt hurtled from the realm of
words and metaphors about spirits, animals and humans, while keeping in mind that Humbert Humbert's inner world* is projected outside onto nature,
objects and people, fully developed in mental illnesses, such as "paranoia" -- I began to wonder if "Lolita" was not mainly another personification, one that bears almost no real-fictional existence in HH's life. Nymphets as a state of mind, metaphors or, rather, permanent prosopoeiae** used to express his pervert sexual inclination for ladlike immature, and painfully wincing, girls - as his landlady's daughter, Dolores Haze, might have been?
It's needless to remind you that I have no training in this field, but mainly with various kinds of psychodynamic mechanisms of "projection," as they happen
outside literary fiction.

* - his fondness for "personifications" runs along a distinct avenue from author Nabokov's, or so it seems to me.
**- After wiki on "mythopoeia", data on prosopopoeia (Greek: προσωποποιία): "a rhetorical device in which a speaker or writer communicates to the
audience by speaking as another person or object. The term literally derives from the Greek roots meaning "a face, a person, to make". Prosopopoeiae are
used mostly to give another perspective on the action being described[...] Prosopopoeiae can also be used to take some of the load off of the
communicator by placing an unfavorable point of view on the shoulders of an imaginary stereotype. The audience's reactions are predisposed to go towards
this figment rather than the communicator himself. This term also refers to a figure of speech in which an animal or inanimate object is ascribed human
characteristics or is spoken of in anthropomorphic language. Quintilian writes of the power of this figure of speech to "bring down the gods from
heaven, evoke the dead, and give voices to cities and states." I selected one of the offered examples:
"Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and, till action, lust
Is perjured, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait."
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 129

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: