RES: [NABOKV-L]{SIGHTING] reference to V.N and "Lolita" in M.Drabble's "The Pure Gold Baby" '
Jansy Mello <>
7/29/2015 11:09 PM
'Vladimir Nabokov Forum' <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>

A Sklyarenko:  “…In Lolita Quilty tries to tempt Humbert with “the infolio de-luxe Bagration Island by the explorer and psychoanalist Melanie Weiss, a remarkable lady, a remarkable work - drop that gun - with photographs of eight hundred and something male organs she examined and measured in 1932 on Bagration, in the Barda Sea, very illuminating graphs, plotted with love under pleasant skies - drop that gun...”


Jansy Mello:  The indication of an “explorer and psychoanalyst Melanie Weiss” presents another game with names and contrasts, alluding to the “black and white” type of crude interpretations, like the one related to Dr. Ivor Black, and here, with Melanie=black and Weiss=white. However, I suppose he is also referring to the real child psychoanalyst Melanie Klein and, perhaps, to Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist.

While I did some checking on Margaret Mead (I wanted to remember where her main explorations took place…islands, but which?), I found a reference to the lines by Nabokov, now quoted by A.Sklyarenko, in a novel by Margaret Drabble , “The Pure Gold Baby”, where she seems to be doubling some of Margaret Mead’s own contributions and, in a quick evaluation, curiously misreading Nabokov *. I copied bits of the paragraphs in question:


“In her sixties, she was to become interested in popular conceptions of anthropology and its use as a motif in fiction …Margaret Mead herself was the butt of endless reductive and sexist jokes [   ]Towards the end of Lolita, arch-parodist Vladimir Nabokov produces a classic example of anthropology- mockery, admittedly put into the mouth of a sexual pervert pleading for his life at gunpoint [  ] Jess was horrified by a late rereading of this classic novel. She had disliked it in her twenties, when she was too young and innocent to understand it, but in her sixties she understood it and was appalled by it [  ] Initially, she had been rereading Lolita in search of unqualified and obsessive and exclusive love, which she found there too, as she had dimly remembered them – but tarnished, perverted, tarnished.  There is genius, but there is coldness.  Jess’s heart cannot afford to give space to coldness…” ( The Pure Gold Baby” by M. Drabble).




* - Margaret Drabble also wrote about Nabokov in “Lolita Written by Vladimir Nabokov: A Product of Modernism”:
“As a more logical, scientific mindset is being developed in North American culture, it has become increasingly common for individuals to look for the simplest, cause-and-effect version of reality. Modernism, however, as a literary movement, rejects this notion, believing rather that reality is “layered, allusive,” and much more complex than is often assumed (Lye). Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, provides this presentation of reality, along with many other qualities of a Modernist work of fiction, beautifully. This is why Lolita should be considered representative of Modernist literature, with the most prominent features that demonstrate this being the narration, a heavy focus on Impressionism, and its confrontational nature.”- See more at: .
Cf. also
Google Search
the archive
the Editors
NOJ Zembla Nabokv-L
Subscription options AdaOnline NSJ Ada Annotations L-Soft Search the archive VN Bibliography Blog

All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.