Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015242, Thu, 17 May 2007 09:00:44 -0400

QUERY: Teaching Lolita
Dear list,

I was happy to read in the current Nabokovian Leland de la Durantaye's
article regarding Appel's Annotated Lolita. He touches on a problem that I
have pondered as I prepare to teach Lolita next spring--namely, the fact
Appel's annotations give away very early (within the notes to the first
chapter) the novel's conclusion and many of its other mysteries. As de la
Durantaye points out, this "seems to run counter to the aims of the novel,
as well as to Nabokov's professed desire to make the reader work as he did."
I'm curious, then, how others who have taught Lolita have handled this
problem. Did you avoid The Annotated Lolita altogether? Did you forbid the
reading of the footnotes, all or in part? The problem for me is that the
footnotes--esp. for someone without French--are very helpful in one way, but
damaging in another. I would appreciate thoughts on this matter.

Thanks in advance,
Matt Roth

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