NABOKV-L post 0006223, Wed, 21 Nov 2001 13:22:20 -0800

Subject
Re: Query: Humbert's Diary (fwd)]]
Date
Body
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I agree completely with the suggestion that the "loving wife" comment is
a
retrospective addition to HH's diary; in fact, I tend to doubt HH's
claim of a photographic memory and would suggest that much of the diary
is invented for the purposes of HH's narrative.


There's another hypothosis -- assuming fictional character's have lives
of
their own, as VN's tend so often to do, perhaps at the time Humbert was
writing the diary he believed no one but himself could possibly decipher
it's maniacal curlicues, but by the time he is writing _Lolita_ five
years
later in prison, he well knows that the scrutiny of a loving and jealous
wife can achive what he thought to be impossible. Thus the loving wife
comment is not an authentic line form the original diary, but an
afterthought inserted either satirically or unconsciously by Humber the
jailhouse litteratuer.

One might say that this is a lot of suposing to be doing, but on the
other
hand, despite Humbert's photographic memory, he admits to inserting a
line
or two into Lotte's lovelorn letter (I don't have my copy of the text at
the
moment, but the line I'm thinking of, if I rember correctly, is
soemthing
like "the vortex of the toilet, where it eventually did go, might be my
own
matter of fact contribution. She probably begged me to make a special
fire
to consume it.") If Humbert is capable of inserting his own later
thought
into the text of the letter without alerting the reader (or rather, only
alerting him after the reader's had their snicker at Lotte's expense),
one
must suppose him capable of doing the same to the diary. Furhermore, I
think
this would fit in with the stucture of the book as a whole --- I believe
it's meant to be read twice, the first time as a mystery and the second
time
as a tragedy. For the first time reader, even if they manage to figure
out
quite early on who Lo disappears with, _Lolita_ requires a second
reading to
truly appreciate how early and how often he appaears, and how
ineveitable
Lo's tragedy is. The "loving wife" comment in the diary is only one
example
of VN's genius for inserting slight comments and details likely to be
passed
over or regarded lightly by someone reading _Lolita_ for the first time,
but
whose significance will strike the second (or third or fourth or fifth)
time
reader like a pile of bricks --- the list of minor characters and their
outcomes in the forward is a steller example, as is that half-heard
conversation on the Enchanted Hunter' porch, when it seems Humbert's
paranoia overcomes his auditory skills.
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EDITOR's NOTE. Just to throw something extra into the pot...someone
might
want to ponder the implications, if any, of Kinbote's insertions into
"Pale
Fire" and how the narrator of Eugene Onegin translates Tatyana's letter
from
French into Russian.