Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026164, Wed, 6 May 2015 13:31:19 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] a book called Lolita
Robert Roper: Recent exchanges on the subject of Lolita as sex book or not
lead me to lift a slightly embarrassed self-promotional pen to announce a
modest study of my own, Nabokov in America, due from Bloomsbury early in
June. It's about the years 1940-60 with special attention to what N. wrote
in that period, or conceived of in those years, and in passing it casts an
eye on the "sex book" of the 20th century, a mini-tradition against which N

Jansy Mello: Google search informs: [ ] “Nabokov in America finds its
narrative heart in his serial sojourns into the wilds of the West,
undertaken with his wife, Vera, and their son over more than a decade.
Nabokov covered more than 200,000 miles as he indulged his other passion:
butterfly collecting. Roper has mined fresh sources to bring detail to these
journeys, and traces their significant influence in Nabokov's work: on
two-lane highways and in late-'40s motels and cafés, we feel Lolita draw
near, and understand Nabokov's seductive familiarity with the American
mundane. Nabokov in America is also a love letter to U.S. literature, in
Nabokov's broad embrace of it from Melville to the Beats. Reading Roper, we
feel anew the mountain breezes and the miles logged, the rich learning and
the Romantic mind behind some of Nabokov's most beloved books.”

I was particularly interested in the information about Robert RoperÂ’s
fascination with Nabokov’s “serial sojourns into the wilds of the West”( the
title “Nabokov in America” has an additional “On the Road to Lolita”…). I
wonder if the author could offer a preview of his ideas about the importance
of Mexico to Nabokov, who has LolitaÂ’s conception taking place in Vera Cruz,
and to transgressor Humbert Humbert’s qualms about “crossing a border” ?
There are other borders being crossed in VNÂ’s novels, is this a parallel to
them? Why “Conception Park” is situated in the US, although “in a town on
the Mexican border”? What does HH mean by “be happy abroad” in a sentence in
which he only mentions, again, the Mexican border?

In “Lolita” we find:

“The front hall was graced with door chimes, a white-eyed wooden thingamabob
of commercial Mexican originÂ… A door ajar to the right afforded a glimpse of
a living room, with some more Mexican trash in a corner cabinet and a
striped sofa along the wall…”Lolita 1,10;
“Main character: Humbert the Hummer. Time: Sunday morning in June. Place:
sunlit living room. Props: old, candy-striped davenport, magazines,
phonograph, Mexican knickknacks (the late Mr. Harold E. Haze — God bless the
good man — had engendered my darling at the siesta hour in a blue-washed
room, on a honeymoon trip to Vera Cruz, and mementoes, among these Dolores,
were all over the place…” Lolita 1,13;
“Moreover, we inspected: Little Iceberg Lake, somewhere in Colorado, and the
snow banks, and the cushionets of tiny alpine flowers, and more
snowÂ…Skeletons of burned aspens, patches of spired blue flowers. The various
items of a scenic driveÂ…A collection of a local lady's homemade sculptures,
closed on a miserable Monday morning, dust, wind, witherland. Conception
Park, in a town on the Mexican border which I dared not cross. There and
elsewhere, hundreds of gray hummingbirds in the dusk, probing the throats of
dim flowers…Our hundredth cavern, adults one dollar, Lolita fifty cents…”
Lolita 2,2;
“I now think it was a great mistake to move east again and have her go to
that private school in Beardsley, instead of somehow scrambling across the
Mexican border while the scrambling was good so as to lie low for a couple
of years in subtropical bliss until I could safely marry my little Creole …”
Lolita 2,2;
“We had promised Beardsley School, good old Beardsley School, that we would
be back Â… Actually I was toying with the idea of gently trickling across the
Mexican border — I was braver now than last year — and there deciding what
to do with my little concubineÂ…We had dug out our tour books and maps. She
had traced our route with immense zest. Was it thanks to those theatricals
that she had now outgrown her juvenile jaded airs and was so adorably keen
to explore rich reality? …” Lolita 2,14 ;
“An additional, abominable, and perfectly gratuitous worry was lovingly
prepared for me in ElphinstoneÂ…The town was newly built, or rebuilt, on the
flat floor of a seven-thousand-foot-high valley; it would soon bore Lo, I
hoped, and we would spin on to California, to the Mexican border, to
mythical bays, saguaro desserts, fatamorganas. José Lizzarrabengoa, as you
remember, planned to take his Carmen to the Etats UnisÂ…Why did I hope we
would be happy abroad? A change of environment is the traditional fallacy
upon which doomed loves, and lungs, rely.”Lolita 2,22

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