NABOKV-L post 0027760, Thu, 17 May 2018 09:00:08 -0400

Subject
Re: Anne Dwyer on "Why I teach Lolita"
Date
Body
Excellent points, Brian.

______________________________
VN Alexander, PhD
Director, Dactyl Foundation
www.victorianalexander.com
www.dactylfoundation.org


On 5/16/18 5:31 AM, Brian Boyd wrote:
>
> 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
> <https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2018/05/14/teaching-lolita-still-appropriate-opinion>/
>
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