NABOKV-L post 0018537, Sat, 22 Aug 2009 12:57:06 -0300

[NABOKOV-L] [THOUGHTS] Lolita and Galatea circularities
Dear List,

A cinemaphile friend of mine, while working over Kubrick's "Lolita" (in conjunction with a very different movie, Spielberg's "A.I"), asked me about what should we consider as an artistic "original creation". His line of thinking followed the lenses of a myth, so he inquired me if Nabokov had anywhere mentioned "Pygmalion and Galatea". Although I can vaguely remember a couple of references in VN, I could not find any quote to offer him.

More specifically, my friend observed that, even though the sculptor had shaped the external contours of Galatea, he could not be considered as "her father" (neither could Gepetto and wooden Pinocchio, nor Spielberg with a metal-rubber robot, nor Nabokov's Dreyer and a voskin automannequin,in KQK), since the statue's breath of life had come from Venus. Is any artist, he wondered, capable to "father" (not only "fashion"), an art-work?

He argued that the transformation of Dolores Haze into the Lolita-nymphet, even though Humbert Humbert would see himself as her "father" and sole creator, had come from Nabokov - as Aphrodite! My impression is that a fascinating issue has been side-tracked under this specific perspective.Perhaps it would be worthwhile to investigate if HH did, in fact, see himself as "Lolita's" creator.

I don't think he did, for he often found himself as being the victim of a particular nymphic enchantment. Nymphet magic, although shaped by HH-Nabokov's verbal and sculptural rendering, would get its inspiring soul from another, ineffable, source.

HH might have considered this source as lying in a real past experience. Cryptically, he wrote: "Annabel was, like the writer, of mixed parentage [...]. I remember her features far less distinctly today than I did a few years ago, before I knew Lolita. There are two kinds of visual memory: one when you skillfully recreate an image in the laboratory of your mind, with your eyes open (and then I see Annabel in such general terms as: "honey-colored skin," "think arms," "brown bobbed hair," "long lashes," "big bright mouth"); and the other when you instantly evoke, with shut eyes, on the dark inner side of your eyelids, the objective, absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors (and this is how I see Lolita)."

His pedophilic leanings would expose his attachment to his childhood and to its "little ghosts". HH would be, therefore, a victim of a sexual game with shadows (already described in "The Enchanter" and its various imaginative chiaroscuro rapes). And yet HH could progress towards the perception of a real, sexually abused American girl, and claim to be able to love a mishapen, pregnant Dolores Schiller.This achievement, so it seems to me, doesn't fit into the overall "confessions of a widowed male." Rather, it derives from an authorial breath that metamorphoses a puppet into a real woman. At the same time, what turns "Lolita" into what it is, as a great novel, is not a story about a "real woman.", not even her transformation from nymphet into a human being. It is actually Humbert Humbert's special creation!

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