NABOKV-L post 0021853, Sun, 24 Jul 2011 17:45:04 +0100

Re: Book Of A Lifetime: Lolita, By Vladimir Nabokov ...
I¹m sufficiently intrigued to seek out Joanna Briscoe¹s novel, You. Of
course, the publisher seems to be over-exploiting the Nabokov/Lolita
connection considering that Joanna¹s heroine is well into puberty at 17 (at
which age my wife was the proud mother of our two children).
Joanna also confuses the complex HH/Lolita relationship by writing:

³After a strategic marriage to her mother, he spends the rest of the novel
chasing the elusive [my italics] girl, while attempting to thwart a rival.²

Why do so many readers ignore Lo¹s lack of in-tacta-hood and HH¹s surprise
when they first hit the sack?

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 22/07/2011 15:54, "Sandy P. Klein" <spklein52@HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> me-lolita-by-vladimir-nabokov-2318114.html
> Book Of A Lifetime: Lolita, By Vladimir Nabokov
> By Joanna Briscoe
> Friday, 22 July 2011
> The summer after A-levels. I had promised myself that once all the cramming
> was over, I would buy 'Lolita'. I felt both furtive and outrageously adult as
> I purchased it in The Totnes Bookshop. I nurtured hazy notions of a racy read
> to ease my brain after all the Chaucer, imagining this was 'The Valley of the
> Dolls' with class.
> What I didn't realise, of course, was that I was about to fall in love with
> the work of the most playful, lyrically virtuoso prose writer of his century,
> if not of all time. I started reading, and the writing inevitably blew my
> mind, and has never stopped astonishing me over so many re-readings. It's like
> watching a tightrope walker perform 'Swan Lake' while singing 'Don Giovanni'
> while laughing at a private joke.
> This is a novel so very famous; so reviled then lauded by generations of
> writers and critics; so filmed and misused as a concept, that ideas about it
> are bound to be warped. At its simplest, it's the tale of an academic, Humbert
> Humbert, who is attracted to what he terms "nymphets" ­ certain underaged
> girls. One summer, he chances upon the ultimate nymphet, Dolores Haze, whom he
> refers to as Lolita. After a strategic marriage to her mother, he spends the
> rest of the novel chasing the elusive girl, while attempting to thwart a
> rival.
> But the plot is subsidiary to a novel that works on so many levels, that is so
> exuberant yet controlled, witty, allusive, and breathtakingly beautifully
> written. Published in 1955, it is many things: a love story; by its own
> admission a disturbing tale of child abuse; an elaborate game of language,
> rhythm and subtext, and much more. What never ceases to amaze me is the fact
> that English was not even this Russian writer's first language, yet his
> fluency and poetic agility outclass almost any native author you care to name.
> What stay in the mind are throwaway descriptions: Humbert's "salad of racial
> genes" and his "princedom by the sea"; the list of the names in Lolita's class
> ­ "a poem, forsooth!", and the "luminous globules of gonadal glow" of the
> jukebox. Was there ever more economy than in his recounting of his own
> mother's death: "(picnic, lightning)"?
> When my publishers described my new novel as "'Lolita' meets 'Wuthering
> Heights'", I was taken aback. Did my influences show that much? But in writing
> of a 17-year-old schoolgirl and her relationship with her older teacher, the
> themes of longing and obsession and the power difference created by age come
> into play. In thinking back to the age I was when I first read Nabokov,
> perhaps I had absorbed more of its themes than I had thought.
> One of my most treasured possessions is a re-bound first edition of 'Lolita'.
> It's a novel that never goes away.
> Joanna Briscoe's novel, 'You', is published by Bloomsbury

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