NABOKV-L post 0015654, Wed, 7 Nov 2007 07:36:08 -0500

SIGHTING: Nabokov and the Neotenous Woman
[EDNOTE. Contributor Tom Rymour's new book, "Rogue Male: Survival Guide
for the Newly Single Man," is due out from the South African publisher
Two Dogs in January. One chapter, playfully addressed to the female
reader, discusses how aspects of women's appearance such as voice,
musculature, lack of body hair, and facial features make women highly
neotenous--that is, retaining childlike physical traits in
maturity--compared to men. The adult woman's hourglass silhouette may
have evolved because it helped men to distinguish fertile adult women
from children. Rymour cites Lolita in this context. -- SES]

[. . . ] Men understand their own urges vaguely. They tend to allude to
attractive women in youthful terms such as girls, dolls, chicks,
abantwana. But do not fear, preciosa -- I shall never call you babe. And
I shall stand up for the feminists on every battlefield, because I'm
convinced that female boobs, bums and brains are a killer combination.

Research into the neotenous nature of women might bring new clues on how
to understand and treat paedophilia, supposing that these speculations
are near the mark. One might ask: Is the paedophile a perv with
primitive hard-wired instincts who was left behind by the rush of sexual
selection toward the hourglass silhouette? In Lolita, Nabokov's
smooth-talking paedophile Humbert Humbert attempts to diagnose his own
penchant for pubescent girls. He writes that when he was a child himself
he loved a little girl called Annabel, and incarnated her in Lolita
twenty-four years later.

I'm dubious about this tale; Humbert is not exactly a reliable narrator.
It seems more likely to me that he was born a paedophile. He despises
Lolita's sexually mature mother, his bride Charlotte: "she of the noble
nipple and massive thigh". Yet he raves about his young prey's neotenous
beauty in poetic terms.

Very well, ma chère. You've had your own chapter, you neotenous thang! I
hope you found it insightful, and worth ploughing through all those
preceding chapters aimed at the slower-witted sex. I will now return to
the concerns of mere men, in a chapter about what happens when they come
to a crisis point in their lives.

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