Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004784, Sat, 19 Feb 2000 09:38:35 -0800

Pale Fire and Vegephobia (fwd)
From: Jay Livingston <LivingstonJ@Mail.Montclair.edu>

It has been remarked that Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada all feature
"perverted" narrators. But Pale Fire is different. As someone
pointed out, while pedophelia and incest are still considered
quite deviant, homosexuality has lost much of its taboo.
Pedophilia and incest are still crimes in most places. But
while Heather may have two mommies, she's still not supposed to
have sex with either of them. Nor has intellectual discourse
been enhanced by a journal of Pedo-studies or Incest Theory.
So, as the response of some contributors here makes obvious,
many people read Pale Fire today in way that was nearly
impossible when it was first published.

But I also question whether the narrator's sexuality is as
central to Pale Fire as it is to Lolita or Ada. Is it essential
to the narrative? Or is it more like Kinbote's vegetarianism
(another practice whose public image has changed considerably in
the last three decades)--a Zemblan "inversion" of
taken-for-granted practices and preferences? Kinbote is just as
confirmed a vegetarian as he is a homosexual, and his reaction
to meat and meat-eaters is not much different from his reaction
to heterosexuality and the people who practice it.

What would happen if we took all the posts on this question and
ran them through "find- and-replace," changing "homosexual" to

Jay Livingston