Hurley, Humbert and Hermann (fwd)
As supermodels go, Elizabeth Hurley proves herself to be rather a
fine and discriminating reader of Nabokov and others in the latest issue
Hurley lists her favorite books and authors for writer George
Plimpton: Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, A.N. Wilson's bio of C.S. Lewis,
and Nancy Mitford; she and husband Hugh Grant even had a wager over a
line in a Mitford novels. Do Johnny Depp and Kate Moss, or Ric Ocasek and
Paulina Poriskova [sp?], talk this way in private?
Hurley's greatest esteem, however, is reserved for VN, and I
can't think of another student the Great Man would have rather had
sitting in the front row at Cornell.
"I can remember trivia in books," she says. "I can remember what
girls are wearing in every scene. Nabokov was like that -- possessed by
detail, the beautiful, tiny details. [Sound familiar?] You can buy plots
in cheap books in any bookstore. He tormented his students: `What was the
wallpaper like in Emma Bovary's bedroom?'"
Plimpton asks Hurley about her favorite characters. Her ultimate
answer was anything but the expected one.
"I loved LOLITA," she said. "Then I was working my way through
Nabokov and I came across DESPAIR, which he wrote originally in Russian
and translated into English. Hermann is the main character, loonier than
Humbert Humbert. I love lunacy, I love clever, and I love fun, and if you
can put all that in one, like Nabokov, that's my cup of tea, completely."
Plimpton asks about Hermann.
"He's obsessed with this tramp, this bum he finds in the street
who he thinks is his double. He murders him for an insurance policy. It
is the funniest book I've ever read in my life. In fact, I use a name out
of Nabokov's DESPAIR when I sign into hotels and don't want to be found."
Plimpton: "There seems to be a common thread among the heroes you
Hurley: "They're madmen, usually. I like being with people who
are slightly loony."
Plimpton later comments that at a photo shoot, where Hurley posed
with a lion for the cover shot, "she pouted her lips slightly and her
face emptied of life and became the expressionless mask that is
considered so estimable in high-fashion circles ... as if to suggest a
vacuity into which Hermann, Humbert Humbert, C.S. Lewis, Graham Greene,
and the others would hardly have ventured."
I was kind of on Hugh Grant's side when he was arrested a few
years ago for a dalliance with a hooker; his beautiful supermodel wife
seemed to me icy and remote. Now I think he's the luckiest guy in town.
Another fan's note before I go: As noted previously in this
forum, Jakob Dylan is a VN reader, too. A recent issue of Rolling Stone
notes that his fans will occasionally throw copies of LOLITA on stage.
Which got me to thinking: Tom Jones gets women's underwear, and Jakob
Dylan gets LOLITA. Who has the better deal? Guess it would depend on the