Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026809, Fri, 15 Jan 2016 03:16:57 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] Moving from yellow slacks to the purples and VN's
kzspygv/ Witt.
P S: I noticed, for the first time, how HH described the drawer where he
kept his diary after Charlotte forced it open: it was "a raped little table
with its open drawer". His choice of "raped desk" is simple, almost obvious
and yet it combines with the plot in a stroke of genius: "The day before I
had ended the regime of aloofness I had imposed upon myself, and now uttered
a cheerful homecoming call as I opened the door of the living room. With her
cream-white nape and bronze bun to me, wearing the yellow blouse and maroon
slacks she had on when I first met her, Charlotte sat at the corner bureau
writing a letter. My hand still on the doorknob, I repeated my hearty cry.
Her writing hand stopped. She sat still for a moment; then she slowly turned
in her chair and rested her elbow on its curved back. Her face, disfigured
by her emotion, was not a pretty sight as she stared at my legs and said:
"The Haze woman, the big bitch, the old cat, the obnoxious mamma, the - the
old stupid Haze is no longer your dupe. She has - she has..."// I stood for
a moment quite still and self-composed, surveying from the threshold the
raped little table with its open drawer, a key hanging from the lock, four
other household keys on the table top."

Jansy Mello: A correction is necessary now. The mental images from Kubrick's
or Lynne's movie must have imposed themselves on my reading and my
observations were quite imprecise. In VN's novel, Humbert's diary was
retrieved from under a pillow ( Charlotte's pillow) and the raped table
might not have had its drawer forced open to give her access to it since
there was a key hanging from its lock.* What she must have read were
Humbert's notes ( I found this distinction rather confusing). The "rape" was
in HH's mind even before CH's pryed into his writings.

Here are a few of the missing parts from my quotes: "I went up to the
ex-semi-studio. Arms akimbo, I stood for a moment quite still and
self-composed, surveying from the threshold the raped little table with its
open drawer, a key hanging from the lock, four other household keys on the
table top. I walked across the landing into the Humberts' bedroom, and
calmly removed my diary from under her pillow into my pocket." [ ] "You
are ruining my life and yours," I said quietly. "Let us be civilized people.
It is all your hallucination. You are crazy, Charlotte. The notes you found
were fragments of a novel. Your name and hers were put in by mere chance.
Just because they came handy. Think it over. I shall bring you a drink."

In the screenplay we find that Charlotte went to Humbert's study where she
discovered his diary. There's no direct reference to a bunch of
incriminatory notes. The "comedy" feeling that's been associated to
Charlotte's death can be clearly perceived in the "farcical scene" that
follows these tragic events (it reminds me now of a Marx brothers's movie, A
Night at The Opera, in the "stateroom scene").
Despite the recent commentaries at the VN-L I was unable to detect the
comedic aspect of Charlotte's death in the novel itself. In the script it's
glaringly obvious.


* - "Charlotte went up to a little table of imitation mahogany with a
drawer. She put her hand upon it. The little table was ugly, no doubt, but
it had done nothing to her./ "I have always wanted to ask you," she said
(businesslike, not coquettish), "why is this thing locked up? Do you want it
in this room? It's so abominably uncouth." / "Leave it alone," I said. I was
Camping in Scandinavia./ "Is there a key?" /"Hidden." [ ] "Carefully
putting down the open book where she had sat (it attempted to send forth a
rotation of waves, but an inserted pencil stopped the pages), I checked the
hiding place of the key: rather self-consciously it lay under the old
expensive safety razor I had used before she bought me a much better and
cheaper one. Was it the perfect hiding place - there, under the razor, in
the groove of its velvet-lined case? The case lay in a small trunk where I
kept various business papers. Could I improve upon this? Remarkable how
difficult it is to conceal things - especially when one's wife keeps
monkeying with the furniture." (I,21) The "raped" ugly table, as H.
observes, "had done nothing to her"

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