NABOKV-L post 0005801, Fri, 9 Mar 2001 20:34:58 -0800

Re: Rosebud (fwd)
From: Rodney Welch <>

Since reading Proust, I've found it hard to believe that Nabokov was totally
invulnerable to influence. I don't know if "Lolita" could have been created
by someone who had not read Proust, and not just because of the allusions;
it's hard for me to read "Lolita" without sensing distant echoes of
Albertine, Gilberte, et al. The same goes for Nabokov's first novel, "Mary."
Indeed, "In Search of Lost Time" could serve as a title for "Lolita" had it
not already been taken. Aren't both novels testaments to the recreative and
inventive possibilities of memory?

I don't think that there is a "Citizen Kane" connection with "Lolita,"
except in one rather obscure coincidental sense: the rose/vagina connection.
"Rosebud," as most fans of the Welles film know, was a bit of a dirty trick
on the part of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, since he had known Kane's
model, William Randolph Hearst, personally, and knew that "Rosebud" was his
pet name for the pudenda of his lover, the actress Marion Davies.

Dolores Haze, too, is constantly connected with the image of a rose --
beautiful but temporary -- and Humbert refers to her pubis as her "brown

This is not, however, an uncommon literary image, and I doubt one had much
to do with the other.

Rodney Welch
Columbia, SC

> From: Galya Diment <>
> Reply-To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
> Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2001 14:27:19 -0800
> Subject: Re: Rosebud (fwd)
> From: Kiran Krishna <>
> I usually accept Nabokov's insistent denials of influence (Ignoring them
> has led to some rather dreadful errors in the past: Someone's - Her name
> escapes me - essay on Kafka comes to mind; Influence, as Appel
> acknowledges, is a troublesome question), and I agree that there is no
> reason to doubt his denial. However, I hadn't read the book since I
> couldn't find it at our library, and I presumed that it was no different
> from the essay. Still, as with Stravinsky, there are some interesting
> similarities.
> On Fri, 9 Mar 2001, Galya Diment wrote:
>> From: Brian Walter <>
>> Appel's essay "Nabokov's Dark Cinema" may not mention Welles, but his book
>> *Nabokov's Dark Cinema* (OUP, 1974) certainly does. Appel does in fact
>> verify that Nabokov loved *Citizen Kane*; apparently, Nabokov described it
>> as "Extraordinary! A masterpiece" (p. 57). Appel even asks Nabokov about
>> the famous "'Rosebud' ending," which Welles labeled "dollar-book Freud"; by
>> way of reply, Nabokov apparently "shrugged his shoulders, and the
>> conversation turned to soccer" (57-8).
>> Unfortunately for this line of inquiry, the same passage has Nabokov
>> rejecting any possibility of influence or allusion, as he informed Appel
>> that he had seen *Citizen Kane* only in 1972, on Swiss television (57).
>> It's probably a good idea to take any of Nabokov's insistent denials of
>> influence or allusion with a grain of salt (apart from Freud, few things
>> seem to have sparked Nabokov's competitive zeal more readily than a
>> suggestion that he was not self-engendered as a writer, one who effectively
>> skipped the gestation of apprenticeship and imitation that so many other
>> artists acknowledge; see, for instance, just about any interview in *Strong
>> Opinions*). But in this case, there seems no reason not to take Nabokov at
>> his word.
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Galya Diment <>
>> Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 10:40 AM
>> Subject: Rosebud (fwd)
>> From: Kiran Krishna <>
>> It just occured to me that in the following sentence (Part 1, Chapter 7,
>> Page 23 in the annotated edition):
>> "Next day, an asthmatic woman, coarsely painted, garrulous, garlicky, with
>> an almost farcical Provencal accent and a black mustache above a purple
>> lip, took me to what was her own domicile, and there, after explosively
>> kissing the bunched tips of her fat fingers to signify the delectable
>> rosebud quality of her merchandise, she theatrically drew aside a curtain
>> to reveal what I judged was that part of the room where a large and
>> unfastidious family usually slept."
>> Rosebud could be interpreted as a reference to Orson Welles' Citizen
>> Kane. Of course, allusions cannot really be discerned from single words,
>> but Welles, like a number of other great artists, has a fascination with
>> vulgarity (though in Citizen Kane, the vulgarity is closer to kitsch
>> than poshlost'). Ada (especially Dan Veen, the dream chapter - Part 2,
>> Chapter 3, and the dozen elderly townsmen of Part 1, Chapter 39, which
>> reminds me of the dozen vacationers in the west wing of Xanadu) suggests
>> Citizen Kane much more strongly. However, I find that Appel's essay (which
>> among other things is remarkable for its appreciation of Stravinsky's
>> Oedipus Rex), 'Nabokov's Dark Cinema' (collected, if you cannot find it by
>> itself, in 'The Bitter Air of Exile') makes no mention at all of Welles,
>> and neither, I notice, does Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years. Still, I
>> think it would be a fascinating area of research, and would be delighted
>> to hear other views on this subject.
> Cheers!
> yours
> Kiran
> "I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name."
> - Vladimir Nabokov