Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026435, Thu, 10 Sep 2015 23:18:28 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] Was Nabokov a Hebephile\Ephebophile?
Joseph Aisenberg: “…Clearly Nabokov was interested in "freakish" behavior. No one writes such an incendiary book as Lolita in such loving lurid detail without being interested in its subject matter. Nabokov's denials were obviously an attempt to get out ahead of any line of questioning that would eventually lead to readers concluding: Humbert, he's Nabokov….The underage girls in the work are clearly poetic eidolons--dreams and ideals--who fired his artistic imagination, but as far as is known, not representations of his literal sex life….”

Brian T.: I don't think VN expected to be held to the same standard of truth in his interviews as, say, a public servant is (and should be). Like many artists with doubts about biography's aims and ends (e.g., Bob Dylan: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcPoZZVm3Dk> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcPoZZVm3Dk), he seems to have regarded the interview as just another art form to be exploited for entertainment and other purposes. As he put it to Vogue in 1969: Is it right for a writer to give interviews? [snip] The novelist John Gardner referred to this far from displeasing, highly entertaining personality: Think of the superbly controlled sadist-snob image Hitchcock created for himself. Think of Nabokov as he presented himself both in his writing and in television interviews; using a snob accent as artfully fabricated as the language of Donald Duck, he reveled in such goofiness as, breaking in on himself, "Careful now, here comes a metaphor!" ( <https://books.google.com/books?id=X-8eAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT45&lpg=PT45&dq=nabokov+%22he+reveled+in+such+goofiness+as%22&source=bl&ots=0eMRtt7drz&sig=cfvEBrjLntO6WXZvdS-fqnR5Qjw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAGoVChMIiKP3-rztxwIVBHE-Ch2uSQ7y#v=onepage&q=nabokov%20%22he%20reveled%20in%20such%20goofiness%20as%22&f=false> https://books.google.com/books?id=X-8eAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT45&lpg=PT45&dq=nabokov+%22he+reveled+in+such+goofiness+as%22&source=bl&ots=0eMRtt7drz&sig=cfvEBrjLntO6WXZvdS-fqnR5Qjw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAGoVChMIiKP3-rztxwIVBHE-Ch2uSQ7y#v=onepage&q=nabokov%20%22he%20reveled%20in%20such%20goofiness%20as%22&f=false) Not that VN was always jokey, but I wonder if he would ever have done interviews at all if he hadn't been allowed to distance himself from the proceedings and "play" with the form. However, it does surprise me that no interviewer ever seems to have elicited from him his sober personal viewpoint on pedophilia and its causes. Maybe the question was asked and he preferred Lolita to answer for him.

Jansy Mello: I think it must be hard to express a “sober personal viewpoint on pedophilia and its causes” in a journalistic interview so I concur with Brian T’s hypothesis that VN preferred “Lolita to answer for him.”

Probably some of his reader’s reactions could be of interest to him should he be shaping his own pain and pleasure into words to distance himself from past experiences. The plot of his novel is obviously totally different from what we read in “Speak, Memory” but still I find it curious that there are no mentions (that I’m aware of) to a different perspective through which, at certain times and angles, the nymphet could be envisaged as a faunlet being held up to a star atop a Christmas tree by an over-fond uncle Basile (in ADA we find “Papa Fig” and “old Mr. Nymphobottomus”) .

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