NABOKV-L post 0018761, Tue, 10 Nov 2009 21:27:48 -0500

QUERY: Harlequin as Quilty?
Carolyn Kunin writes:

Dear Jansy,

There is a book (The Triump of Pierrot; the Commedia dell'Arte and the
Modern Imagination by Martin Green and John Swan*) that addresses the
importance of the Commedia in 20th century art, music, dance and
literature. Seven pages are devoted to discussing Nabokov's use of this
theme throughout his work, and includes some interesting information
about VN & "Dangleleaf."

On the novel in question the authors write:

In Lolita we have a remarkable version of Columbine in the girl herself
and in Humbert Humbert we have an equally re-
markable combination or alternation of Pierrot and Harlequin. (We also
have a showier, more expressionist pairing of
Humbert and Quilty as Pierrot and Harlequin.)

Very interesting book.


*Macmillan, 1986

[EDNOTE. I have also written on this subject in an essay: Susan
Elizabeth Sweeney, “Looking at Harlequins: Nabokov, the World of Art,
and the Ballets Russes.” Nabokov’s World. Ed. Jane Grayson, Arnold
McMillin, and Priscilla Meyer. 2 vols. London: Palgrave, 2002. Volume
2 (Reading Nabokov): 73-95. -- SES]

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