NABOKV-L post 0017546, Sat, 3 Jan 2009 15:04:45 -0200

Fw: [NABOKV-L] Lolita: Nymphet? Or Larvalet?
RHB: No wish to bug Nabokovians, but a question in need of an answer. Why did Nabokov, a lepidopterist, call Lolita a nymphet? Lepidoptera do not have nymphs, they have larvae. Only ancient insects, primitive insects if you will, such as the Plecoptera (stoneflies) and the Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) have nymphs.Should Lolita have been a larvalet instead of a nymphet?

JM: Lepidoptera have no nymphal stage and there are no nymphic baby-butterflies hiding in an exo-skeleton. Most, if not all, insects that go through nymphic stages follow an aquatic cycle.
Brides, or mythological nymphs, live close to rivers, lakes and fountains and are held to be mortally dangerous to men. Butterflies obey no water-cycle. Odonata specialist, Ruy Penalva ( who offered me the explanation above) concluded: "Enquanto Mulher e Jovem Lolita é uma Ninfeta, enquanto Borboleta jovem poderia ser uma Lagarta ou Larvoleta."

While I leafed thru "Lolita" most references I found confirmed Dr. Penalva's conclusion, for these were solely related to "human" stages progressing from fairy-winged nymphets into "young-girl - college girl- woman", unrelated to insects, ie no links to damsel-flies nor to butterflies. At most, to mythological fauns and nymphs. Then we read of "strange and beautiful children, faunlet and nymphet".
Another mention describes "my beauty and bride, imprisoned in her crystal sleep", like Snow-White in her coffin.
When HH writes about Petrarch's Laureen she comes closer to a flower, although not a water-nymph, "running in the wind, in the pollen and dust, a flower in flight". Nymphet-love is dangerous, deadly, painful, liquid.

Fran Assa: "This discovery of Charlotte Haze-Hayes is indeed exciting. I must say I was taken aback at the association of Lo's mother with a Madame, as well. But on further thought, we are reading Humbert's madcap story--and as an effete, snobby intellectual (to harken to Spiro Agnew) this otherwise inappropriate association fits right in. The cur!"

JM: Humbert's story teems with Madames and child-prostitutes. There is even a Marie with a "stellar name", but no close link to the name Haze. There might be something along the Mrs.Hayes line but she is soon taken over by Mary Lore. If VN had intended to connect Charlotte and any scheming Madame I'm almost certain he would have made it clear in one way or another.
Here we go:"Mrs. Hays, the brisk, briskly rouged, blue-eyed widow who ran the motor court [...] gave me the key and a tinkling smile, and, still twinkling, showed me where to park the car [...] With a heterosexual Erlkönig in pursuit, thither I drove, half-blinded by a royal sunset on the lowland side and guided by a little old woman, a portable witch, perhaps his daughter, whom Mrs. Hays had lent me, and whom I was never to see again."
Next Dolores is related to Mary Lore: "her father, "lonely Joseph Lore was dreaming of Oloron, Lagore, Rolas" [...] Mary Lore, the beastly young part-time nurse [...] "Dolores," said Mary Lore, entering with me, past me, through me, the plump whore,[...] the ripe young hussy, reeking of urine and garlic."

Mensagem de e-mail verificada por Spyware Doctor (
Versão do banco de dados: 5.11460

Search archive with Google:

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

Manage subscription options: