Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026549, Mon, 19 Oct 2015 15:20:13 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] [Query] Lolita's homelessness and inheritance
C.Kunin tp JM; Your excellent and interesting question, though not being a
lawyer I can't answer, raises another that I'm not sure I had ever
considered before, which is, was Dolores actually Mr Hayes's .daughter? .Of
course, what I'm wondering is if her father was actually Quilty. And
speaking of her given name, how did she come to be called Lolita (which,
granted, is a diminutive of a diminutive for Dolores)? And speaking of
diminutives, was Lolita was average height? short? tall? can't recall..."

Jansy Mello: Lolita's height?

Wanted, wanted: Dolores Haze.

Her dream-gray gaze never flinches.

Ninety pounds is all she weighs

With a height of sixty inches.

(this measurement, HH informs, came after " she had added two inches to her
stature and eight pounds to her weight". At first: "One of my guides in
these matters was an anthropometric entry made by her mother on Lo's twelfth
birthday.I thought I could safely accept most of those January measurements:
hip girth, twenty-nine inches; thigh girth (just below the gluteal sulcus),
seventeen; calf girth and neck circumference, eleven; chest circumference,
twenty-seven; upper arm girth, eight; waist, twenty-three; stature,
fifty-seven inches; weight, seventy-eight pounds; figure, linear;
intelligence quotient, 121; vermiform appendix present, thank God" and, of
course, the famous "She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet
ten in one sock.")

Quite a bombastic line of inquiry leading to Quilty and incest. Interesting
that in the end we get to the rules about property rights and inheritance (
originally, the law that prohibits incest refers not to genes and
"blood-lines," but to a totem and rules of endogamy and exogamy for
commerce). However, deep down, my question was directed to one of the last
lines in the posting: whether Lolita's " 'homelessness' was not only a
consequence of HH's perverse actions but it also resulted from a specific
kind of social organization?" (and also to draw a parallel between young
V.Nabokov's losses and his little girl's).

Our ED, SES, gave me a tip about the lawyer "who .wants to settle
Charlotte's estate," and the letter he (John Farlow) wrote to HH. I went
back to the novel to follow her indication and, oh, yes! Incest, indeed. HH
himself had suggested that he was Lolita's biological father, not Harold.
Perhaps C.Kunin's memory played a trick and substituted HH's reference by

Below, an assortment of data following Beth's very precise tip:

"John Farlow was a middle-aged, quiet, quietly athletic, quietly successful
dealer in sporting goods, who had an office at Parkington, forty miles away:
it was he who got me the cartridges for that Colt and showed me how to use
it, during a walk in the woods one Sunday; he was also what he called with a
smile a part-time lawyer and had handled some of Charlotte's affairs";

"In a moment of superb inspiration I showed the kind and credulous Farlows
(we were waiting for Leslie to come for his paid tryst with Louise) a little
photograph of Charlotte I had found among her affairs. From a boulder she
smiled through blown hair. It had been taken in April 1934, a memorable
spring. While on a business visit to the States, I had had occasion to spend
several months in Pisky. We met - and had a mad love affair. I was married,
alas, and she was engaged to Haze, but after I returned to Europe, we
corresponded through a friend, now dead. Jean whispered she had heard some
rumors and looked at the snapshot, and, still looking, handed it to John,
and John removed his pipe and looked at lovely and fast Charlotte Becker,
and handed it back to me. Then they left for a few hours.";

"hardly had the Farlows gone than a blue-chinned cleric called - and I tried
to make the interview as brief as was consistent with neither hurting his
feelings nor arousing his doubts. Yes, I would devote all my life to the
child's welfare. Here, incidentally, was a little cross that Charlotte
Becker had given me when we were both young. I had a female cousin, a
respectable spinster in New York. There we would find a good private school
for Dolly.";

"Well, you are the doctor," said John a little bluntly. "But after all I was
Charlotte's friend and adviser. One would like to know what you are going to
do about the child anyway."/"John," cried Jean, "she is his child, not
Harold Haze's. Don't you understand? Humbert is Dolly's real father."/ "I
see," said John. "I am sorry. Yes. I see. I did not realize that. It
simplifies matters, of course. And whatever you feel is right."/The
distraught father went on to say he would go and fetch his delicate daughter
immediately after the funeral, and would do his best to give her a good time
in totally different surroundings, perhaps a trip to New Mexico or
California - granted, of course, he lived./So artistically did I impersonate
the calm of ultimate despair, the hush before some crazy outburst, that the
perfect Farlows removed me to their house. They had a good cellar, as
cellars go in this country; and that was helpful, for I feared insomnia and
a ghost";

My fancy was both Proustianized and Procrusteanized; for that particular
morning, late in September 1952, as I had come down to grope for my mail,
the dapper and bilious janitor .started to complain. In the process of
listening to him and tipping him.I had the impression that one of the two
letters which that blessed mail brought was from Rita's mother.; the other
letter which I opened and scanned rapidly in the elevator was from John
Farlow./.I am saying all this in order to explain how bewildered I was by
Farlow's hysterical letter. I knew his wife had died but I certainly
expected him to remain, throughout a devout widowhood, the dull, sedate and
reliable person he had always been. Now he wrote that after.[he] had decided
that whatever affairs he had controlled at Ramsdale he would hand over to
Jack Windmuller of that town, a lawyer whom we both knew. He seemed
particularly relieved to get rid of the Haze "complications."[ ]Since he
was "building a family" as he put it, he would have no time henceforth for
my affairs which he termed "very strange and very aggravating." Busybodies -
a whole committee of them, it appeared - had informed him that the
whereabouts of little Dolly Haze were unknown, and that I was living with a
notorious divorcee in California.The people who had been renting the Haze
house for some years now wished to buy it. He suggested that I better
produce Dolly quick./I remember letting myself into my flat and starting to
say: Well, at least we shall now track them down - when the other letter
began talking to me in a small matter-of-fact voice:/ Dear Dad:/How's
everything? I'm married. I'm going to have a baby. I guess he's going to be
a big one. I guess he'll come right for Christmas. This is a hard letter to
write. I'm going nuts because we don't have enough to pay our debts and get
out of here."

In conclusion: HH was extremely clever and people are easy to deceive.
That's it?

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