Vladimir Nabokov

Ooijen, Erik van. Ogling Lo: For an Erotics of Literary Description. 2011

Bibliographic title
Ogling Lo: For an Erotics of Literary Description
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Online Journal
Periodical issue
v. 5
Publication year

The article by Erik van Ooijen is entitled “Ogling Lo: For An Erotics of Literary Description,” and it focuses on erotically charged passages of literary description in Lolita and their relation to the representation of character. The author argues for formalist erotics of literary description, liberated from moralistic concerns, by contrasting theories of simulationism or make-believe (reading character as possible persons) from theories of poeticity (reading character as pattern or figure): only through the latter are we able to avoid what has been termed the thesis of “norm-equivalence”, i.e., that a similar set of joint ethical norms apply to fictional and actual situations. Erik van Ooijen questions the definitional understanding of description as a text-type identifying the properties of objects by considering Nelson Goodman’s non-denotational understanding of fictional description as representation-as rather than representation-of: since fictional objects do not exist, descriptions become a matter of composition rather than reference, and analysis of a question of aesthetical affect rather than veracity.