NABOKV-L post 0026089, Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:40:38 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] [SIGHTING] TV series "Pretty little liars" and
Vivian Darkbloom - correction
Mo Ibrahim: "It's very fitting that Nabokov's anagram would be used on the popular show, Pretty Little Liars, since one of the main draws on the teen show is the age-discrepant sexual relationship between a high school student and her English teacher which began when the student was a sophomore (approximately 15-years-old) and continues during her senior year and current season of the show."

Jansy Mello: While I was considering your appraisal I realized that there’s one of V.Nabokov’s themes (“transitoriness”) which I’d never before considered in connection to Lolita. All of a sudden it struck me a vengeful blow.

Although, at first, HH was ready to discard his “aging mistress” (part 2 ch 9), he gradually realized (and I believe him) that he would go on loving her even after she emerged from nymphethood.* This conclusion, until now, dominated my understanding and feelings completely. However, HH’s desperate attempts to get Lolita back, his unceasing paper-chase after her, his pitiful pleas were still a part of his attempts to recover his “nymphet,” and not the girl he loved. Although, even before she was taken from him, he’d been acutely aware that the “nymphetic stage” was short, he didn’t show signs of distress (he made plans to enjoy Lolitas 1 and 2, daughter and grand-daughter in one of the most disgusting parts of the novel that I shall not quote…) and this, and the word “forever,” as HH had applied it once**, were what misled me into missing the entire spirit of Lolita’s disappearance and subsequent chase as being a resource for rendering VN’s acute feelings of loss and about the transience of beauty (and more…). Although all this must be obvious to many Lolita readers, the VN/HH’s breathless desperation, the total hopelessness of his search caught me only now.

In short: Humbert admits that he is forever in love with and permanently in search of nymphets (this corresponds to an internal craving, an inextinguishable fire), that he is entranced by pubescent girls and that he considers young women (college girls) “that horror of horrors.” When he meets Lolita he thinks that she is just one among many in that garland of nymphets he expects to enjoy (the girl Lolita is “safely solipsized”), for the “nymphic” attributes are transient and demand endless substitutions. Later he discovers that he loves Lolita herself, even after she has ceased to be “his nymphet”. When he embarks in his chase after Lolita we may assume that those two trends are present: his jealous love for a nymphet that was stolen from him and who must be found rapidly before she “disappears” into an adult - and his disarming love for a woman (the “essence” of her) who he wants to win back.

In a certain way we may consider HH’s plight a relatively simple predicament. Myself, I was never touched by this part of the story…And yet, HH’s paper-chase desperation may be representative of VN’s (and our own) despair at how quickly time robs us of our youth, beauty, wits, and that our “existence is but a brief crack of light,” and that the world is doomed to end. This is what, in “Lolita,” emerges (not very explicitly though) in HH’s relentless and hopeless search after his “Dolores disparue”,*** the shareable emotion that I’d been skipping until now because I left VN’s interference out!

*- “ The moment, the death I had kept conjuring up for three years was as simple as a bit of dry wood. She was frankly and hugely pregnant [ ] I could not kill her, of course, as some have thought. You see, I loved her. It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.” [ ] “there she was with her ruined looks and her adult, rope-veined narrow hands …, there she was (my Lolita!), hopelessly worn at seventeen, with that baby…and I looked and looked at her, and knew as clearly as I know I am to die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth, or hoped for anywhere else. She was only the faint violet whiff and dead leaf echo of the nymphet I had rolled myself upon with such cries in the past; an echo on the brink of a russet ravine, with a far wood under a white sky, and brown leaves choking the brook, and one last cricket in the crisp weeds... but thank God it was not that echo alone that I worshipped. What I used to pamper among the tangled vines of my heart, mon grand pêché radieux, had dwindled to its essence: sterile and selfish vice, all that I canceled and cursed.”

** - “I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita. She would be thirteen on January 1. In two years or so she would cease being a nymphet and would turn into a "young girl," and then, into a "college girl" — that horror of horrors. The word "forever" referred only to my own passion, to the eternal Lolita as reflected in my blood. The Lolita whose iliac crests had not yet flared, the Lolita that today I could touch and smell and hear and see, the Lolita of the strident voice and rich brown hair …— that Lolita, my Lolita, poor Catullus would lose forever. So how could I afford not to see her for two months of summer insomnias? Two whole months out of the two years of her remaining nymphage! Should I disguise myself as a somber old-fashioned girl, gawky Mlle Humbert, and put up my tent on the outskirts of Camp Q… Berthe will sleep with Dolores Haze!”

*** “This book is about Lolita; and now that I have reached the part which (had I not been forestalled by another internal combustion martyr) might be called "Dolorès Disparue," there would be little sense in analyzing the three empty years that followed. While a few pertinent points have to be marked, the general impression I desire to convey is of a side door crashing open in life's full flight, and a rush of roaring black time drowning with its whipping wind the cry of lone disaster.” (part 2,25) and now I’m thrown back to the sentence, in SM: “the cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.”

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Nabokv-L policies:
Nabokov Online Journal:"
AdaOnline: "
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada:
The VN Bibliography Blog:
Search the archive with L-Soft:

Manage subscription options :