NABOKV-L post 0015470, Mon, 10 Sep 2007 14:01:44 +0200

Re: QUERY: Elphinstone, Idaho?
Hello Rachel,

sorry for answering so late. I am just back from visiting some of the places involved.

On my "Lolita USA" webpages I placed 'Elphinstone' not in Utah but in Wyoming, though all information given seems to point to Utah (there is more of it than for any other place in the novel). But there simply is no town in Utah that meets the most specific of these criteria, that is the topography, the altitude and the distance to a city with a good bookstore. So I hesitatingly ended up with Evanston, Wyoming--which is only three miles across the Wyoming/Utah state line, has an LDS "temple" and is fully oriented towards Salt Lake City. So it's almost Utah. I did not equate Evanston with 'Elphinstone' because no imaginary place should be equated with a real one but argued that in many respects 'Elphinstone' at that time must have been like Evanston. Also, there is the evocative sound. There simply is no clue at all that would point to Idaho. 'Utana' obviously is a composite of Utah and Montana. My suggestion is that 'Duk Duk Ranch' (where Quilty took Lolita on the Fourth of July, 1949) is a private joke of Nabokov's, referring to the little old Duck Ranch north of West Yellowstone, Montana where he had spent a happy summer in 1951 and which in its quiet solitude is just about the opposite of Quilty's obscene hide-out. So Humberts synthetic western state of 'Utana' embraces both Utah and Montana.

As for Idaho, that comes in only in Nabokov's screenplay. It has an altogether different geography from the novel, explicitly placing 'Beardsley' in Idaho and 'Elphinstone' in Arizona (see e.g. pp.117 and 168), fusing 'Wace' and 'Elphinstone' and cutting short both of Humbert's and Lolita's journeys across the USA. That's why in Kubrick's film both Humbert's and Quilty's license plates could well have been Idaho ones.

I hope this residual Idaho cue will be enough to advance your project.

Dieter E. Zimmer, Berlin, Germany

----- Original Message -----
From: Nabokv-L
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2007 4:36 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] QUERY: Elphinstone, Idaho?

I have a question regarding the location of Elphinstone in 'Lolita'.
Dieter E. Zimmer, in his "Lolita USA" website very convincingly places
Elphinstone in Utah. But Idaho seems a likely candidate as well. Idaho's
nickname is "The Gem State" which fits Humbert's claim that Elphinstone is
in "a gem of a western state." Also in the 'Lolita' screenplay Quilty's
car has plates from Idaho. Placing Elphinstone in Idaho would advance a
project that I am currently working on which makes me hesitant to follow
this lead without thoroughly exhausting all possibilities.
Any assistance or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
thank you,
Rachel Ronning

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