NABOKV-L post 0017039, Thu, 11 Sep 2008 10:09:57 -0700

Subject
Re: Lolita and father-daughter love
Date
Body
I've been reading this Lolita discussion and missing a central concern:  the actual father-daughter relationship.  If we take out the love affair/child abuse element (and I know that this means sidestepping almost the whole novel), we find a man who spends his time educating his step-daughter in everything from French to tennis, and wiping out his finances to add further to her skills (Ted Litam, the tennis coach, is a former Wimbleton winner, for example).  Humbert is precisely the kind of strict parent the principal at Lolita's school chides him about.  This is one of the major comic elements in the novel.  It is the one redeeming feature of his relationship, yet Humbert never brags about or even mentions it, and he seems almost entirely unaware of it.  Lolita, however, remembers, and at their last meeting she says that he had been a good father--a statement that seems bizarre and black-humor amusing until you think about it.  Perhaps
the only person he can admit this aspect to is his alter ego, Quilty, to whom he says before shooting him, "she was my child." 

Chaz
--- On Wed, 9/10/08, Nabokv-L <nabokv-l@UTK.EDU> wrote:

From: Nabokv-L <nabokv-l@UTK.EDU>
Subject: [NABOKV-L] THOUGHTS re: Excerpts from "Lolita"
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2008, 4:21 PM



----- Original Message -----
From: jansymello
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 2:41 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] [NABOKOV-L] Excerpts from "Lolita"


J.Aisenberg: "the self-flagellation is sort of genuine...Nabokov said somewhere that he wanted the story to be about a man obsessed with a girl who only at the end learns to love her as a man should love a woman, but by that point it would be too late. Yet it doesn't read that way. Probably it's because Humbert never realizes that what attracts him to Lolita is all the things he complains about, her comic books and movies, her slang and her early sexuality...at odds with the Anabel Leigh mythos from which Lolita is supposed to have grown...he never seems like he loves her, since he never knows her.... That bit about there being behind her awful juvenile cliches "a garden and a twilight, and a palace gate".Doesn't the image, drenched in its absurd dusty European poetic lineage, completely wrong in application to Lolita...And that "oh my poor, bruised child..." ... this woe is me stuff, with its silly classist tone, seems to parody sympathy ..."
 
JM: JA, your conclusion that HH "seems to parody sympathy" made me realize that there's often in HH a tone similar to F.Pessoa's who once wrote that "the poet is such a liar that he feigns to be feeling the pain which he is then truly feeling." ( "O poeta é um fingidor e finge tão completamente que chega a fingir que é dor a dor que deveras sente").... Actually, the same spirit arises in other writings of VN, too. 
 
In a way I disagree with your song-of-experience assumption that true love, necessarily, must also be "selfless love", therefore  matter-of-factedly distant from childhood nostalgias and fairy-tale dreams. You are probably right since I'm unable to, in cold-blood, define or describe this "erastes" kind of love (so unlike "charitas"!!!!). 
HH's woe-is-me often drives me to tears ( even the simple exclamation, "my Lolita", in the way he inscribes it, touches me deeply). For me the
"palace gate" means, for one, the trite "my home is my castle" lyrical mental state, road-side motels included. 
HH, contrary to many other men, really loves his Lolita  and this happens not only after the "choir of children" bit: "All I want to stress is that my discovery of her was a fatal consequence of that "princedom by the sea" in my tortured past.". Besides, from Lolita onwards VN himself changed from lofty protestations of cosmic spiritual love (ever present in his Russian short-stories) towards a more flesh-and-blood, object-directed kind of love with all the losses it entails  (no more endless ressurection by a Greek metempsychotic passage from lass into flower, into brook or star). 
 
Following the list of "my Lolita" links with Catullus, I remembered having wiki-read, quite recently, that "Boswell's Life, along with other biographies, documented Johnson's behaviour and mannerisms in such detail that they have informed the posthumous diagnosis of Tourette syndrome"[...] "Tourette's was once considered a rare and bizarre syndrome, most often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks (coprolalia). However, this symptom is present in only a small minority of people with Tourette's". 
HH's displeasure with Lolita's slang and easy profanities, if set close to a couple of lines of this poet's Carmina XVI ( obviously there is not the slightest proof that VN had ever kept these in mind, at any time), suggests a very peculiar twist in relation to  the "words and actions" expressed in HH's "confessions".  
A rough translation I found for these lines taught me that faithful Catullus believes that: "...it is suitable that a dutiful poet be chaste/ Himself, but not at all necessary that his verses be;/ Which only then have wit and charm,/ When they are erotic or not decent enough...[...]"
Did HH, while censoring Lolita's unpoetic expletives, act like Satan rebuking sin  or...well, back to the beginning: "why did HH write his confessions"?  




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