Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026976, Wed, 4 May 2016 17:51:13 -0300

Plagiarism and Inspiration - Ian McEwan
Former posting: "Humbert Humbert dies in 1952, exactly forty years after
Reichelt's death. The reference to the tailor (1947), if it signals
doom/regret, indicates the date when Humbert Humbert's "spirit" died
following a "nympholepetic's" calendar."

I'm quite certain that British author Ian McEwan's words were, somehow, the
instigators behind my curiosity concerning Nabokov's reference to Reichelt's
death and his two-minute or forty-second hesitation while standing on the
brink of a drop. Humbert didn't extend his qualms about his lust for Lolita
any longer than that, and, like Reichelt, he took the plunge. When Humbert
writes about this episode forty years later (in his calendar it took place
in 1947) he dates his cowardly "fall" not at the time it actually happened
but at when he was writing his "Confessions." *

"I don't deny there was wrongdoing. I stole a life, and I don't intend to
give it back. You may treat these few pages as a confession" (from Ian
McEwan's "My Purple Scented Novel" in the New Yorker [Cf.
-by-ian-mcewan ]) is an altogether different kind of recognition of sins.
They were comitted by an unsuccessful writer named Parker Sparrow who stole
and readapted a novel that his more famous friend Jocelyn Tarbet had
written and, even forty years later, he remained not only unrepentant of it
but he cynically gloats over the achievement...

We can also access Debora Treisman's interview related to this short-story [
-03-28 ], from where I copied an excerpt, bearing in mind Barrie Karp's link
to another interview related to plagiarism, artistic borrowings, Vladimir
Nabokov and Michael Maar's "The two Lolitas."

Q:"You yourself make a cameo in "My Purple Scented Novel"-as the novelist
"with the Scottish name and the English attitude." Have you ever been
tempted to steal anything from another writer? How satisfying would it
ultimately be to be known and respected for a work that wasn't yours?

R: Borrowing or stealing isn't quite the issue here. Writers you like, whose
imaginations appeal to you, open up opportunities for your own imagination.
Some writers-and they needn't necessarily be great or well-known-can suggest
routes to freedom, to a new mental space. A reader, or that other writer,
would probably never spot the connection. But the debt remains."

Hopefully V. Nabokov, even if he'd been somehow influenced by Von
Lichberg's "Lolita," was unrepentant of his choices in this matter and that
not even a silent "debt" remained.


* - Contrary to a vast majority of readers, I think that Humbert Humbert
was, at intervals, really repentant of his actions and that this Reichelt
insertion is one of these occasions.

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