NABOKV-L post 0027757, Wed, 16 May 2018 09:31:40 +0000

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Re: Anne Dwyer on "Why I teach Lolita"
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From Brian Boyd:


I must confess I turned to Anne Dwyer's article enthusiastically (even before Eric's post), because I find it harder and harder to teach Lolita to my students, but I was disappointed.



Part of the problem of teaching Lolita, isn't it, is that many student readers nowadays fixate on Humbert's perversion and evil to the exclusion of all else in the novel, as if the fact that Hermann Karlovich was a murderer made everything else in Despair irrelevant or immaterial or uninteresting; yet Lolita is so many dimensions ampler than Despair.



But if we do stick to Humbert's predilections and behavior, and think in terms of the harm the book could cause, being about those predilections and that behavior from the inside, one of the strongest claims on behalf of Lolita, surely, is that sex abuse therapists find it so valuable, so insightful, so genuinely therapeutic, such a clear way of showing the psychology of an abuser. See the attached article by Lucia Willians, and note her references to the work of Sokhna Fall.



Another way of looking at Lolita is in terms of content. It deals with things that we value so much, including desire and love and beauty, in ways that are outrageous. But it is the cost of having capacities for desire and love and an appetite for beauty that they can go wrong, and that's what makes their not going wrong so precious, and why we should be attuned to false claims to these positives.



Another way of looking at the Lolita problem is in terms of the challenge to readers, the benefit for readers. One of the most important things in human life is freedom, including freedom from manipulation, from unfair and false persuasion and pressure, and from oppression. Humbert tries to manipulate and pressure us as he has manipulated Lolita. We need to learn to resist. Lolita is the supreme exercise in literature of the challenge of reading against the character narrating. That's partly a technical challenge for the author, and a "technical" and moral challenge for readers. Why would we want a fugitive and cloistered virtue?

?


________________________________
From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU> on behalf of Eric NAIMAN <naiman@BERKELEY.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, 16 May 2018 8:12 a.m.
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Anne Dwyer on "Why I teach Lolita"

For those of us who teach or admire Lolita, Anne Dwyer (Pomona College) has published an eloquent defense of the novel.

https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2018/05/14/teaching-lolita-still-appropriate-opinion

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