NABOKV-L post 0017207, Wed, 22 Oct 2008 00:21:01 -0700

Re: THOUGHTS: Kinbote as gay sterotype or symbol

--- On Tue, 10/21/08, NABOKV-L <NABOKV-L@HOLYCROSS.EDU> wrote:

Subject: [NABOKV-L] THOUGHTS: Kinbote as gay sterotype or symbol
Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 5:40 PM

Jansy responds to Joseph:

JM: In the same way that we see wealthy and poor, philistine and pervert,
fertile or sterile, patriotic or treacherous, normal or neurotic
heterosexuals, the same applies to "homosexuals", no? J.A.: This is true. By no means am I suggesting that N. should have painted theportrait of "nice" homosexual, but I do think Kinbote's hysteriaNarcisism, and especially the unfortunate implied suicide are lame stereotypes (as are the Shades and Hazel in my opinion), for the reasons which I gave and which states, once more,that Nabokov's detailing is vague and abstract where it should havebeen specific and precise, as concerns the character's vice. Justas Nabokov noticed that Dostoyevsky wasn't really explaining to uswhat the narrator of Notes from the Underground actually did thatwas so sinful, Nabokov fudges on his character, and I think it'sbecause he doesn't understand the character; his imagination failshim at that front. Idon't think you can argue with this, but you have anyway. This is why I
think Kinbote's fondness for either strong burly types or long lashed young

men, or description of sexual encounters would be sufficiently revelatory of
VN's intention to burlesque expressions of sexuality to deal with
post-modern "solipsism" in literature or in language.J.A.: Are you saying that I suggested he be specific in order to dramatize this theme? Or that the theme is fully apparent as iswithout the sordid details? Now remember, I'm criticizing this bookas the work of a great writer, on that level and not simply as any otherbook. My point was that Lolita worked in every way while in myopinion Pale Fire doesn't quite work on any level excepting how it was conceived. I focusedon Kinbote's sexuality because I thought it revealed an aestheticflaw as set by Nabokov's own standards. I.E. he's against types, but thengoes on to give us a florid gay character so self-hating he commits suicideand uses his condition to function as a comic abstraction of arstistic solipsism, though I'mcertain he would vehemently deny this, saying that he functioned as nothing more orless than the precise words set down on the page. Btw: VN often
acknowledges that his characters are not "types" ("The story in
Sinister is not really about life and death in a grotesque police state. My
characters are not 'types,' not carriers of this or that
'idea.' BS,
preface )J.A.: It's because he says that I brought all this up in the firstplace. Yet you can't always trust the interviews and the prefaces,The Wilson letters have him claiming the opposite of his statedstands: to Wilson for instance, he says that Lolita is a deeply moralbook which makes fun of American mores. Btw. this anti-idea notion has never made any sense. Surelyyou can't really believe in that "bl" notion. Nabokov is one of themost opinionated and polemical of writers I've ever come across, even politically. This is a writer who ascribes spiritualvaluations to bathing! Ada is filled with carping, swipes and asidesabout his own likes and dislikes.

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