NABOKV-L post 0007253, Mon, 9 Dec 2002 15:26:20 -0800

Fw: Fw: Why Quilty?

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 3:05 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Why Quilty?

In a message dated 09/12/2002 21:22:42 GMT Standard Time, writes:

I'm sorry but there is no french phrase as "qu'il-t-y".

The phrase is "qu'il t'y mene [grave accent over the first e of mene]". It's in a letter from Mona Dahl, Lolita's friend, to Lolita (p. 221, Penguin edition). But there are other possible reasons for Humbert's/Nabokov's choice of the name Clare Quilty. Others have pointed out that it suggests "clear(ly) guilty", as opposed, presumably, to the "touching" Humbert's attempt to seduce readers into sympathising with his near-innocence.
But there are other problems about the name Quilty. The "Foreword" by "John Ray, Jr., Ph.D." implies that all the names, including Vivian Darkbloom, but excepting Lolita, and possibly Quilty, are pseudonyms. If Vivian Darkbloom is a pseudonym then surely Quilty must be too, for what purpose would be served by disguising the name of the author of his biography "My Cue" but not his own name? But how can Humbert, or conceivably John Ray Jr., invent a pseudonym that is the anagram of their creator? And how, if Quilty is a pseudonym, can Mona's letter contain "qu'il t'y"?
There seem to be questions, or jokes, here analogous to those suggested by "Pale Fire".

Anthony Stadlen