NABOKV-L post 0024280, Sun, 26 May 2013 05:27:21 +0000

Re: ANNC: Article on Lolita
Bruce Stone’s coruscating defense of Lolita contains many fine apercus on the novel and Nabokov: his essay will indeed be a great resource for students. He rightly argues that if Lolita needed defense, it can defend itself through its art. In a much more subdued response in the latest Nabokovian to the Cossack attacks on Lolita and its author’s legacy I add another line of defense: not the novel’s art but its social science, the plain prose of real history backing up the novel’s poetry and fiction:

“Women from around the world who work with those sexually abused as children, as well as women who themselves have been sexually abused, have contacted me over the years to express their admiration for Lolita. They recognize Nabokov’s pioneering and penetrating insights into child sex abuse, and his perception of the damage done to victims and the resilience nevertheless possible for some of them.
“A couple of weeks ago, for instance, Professor Lúcia Williams of the University of São Carlos in Brazil, who directs a Laboratory of Violence Analysis and Prevention focused especially on child and family violence, wrote me that she was ‘taken by complete surprise by how factual [Lolita] still is in terms of what we now know from child sexual abuse research. Since then I have acquired a small library on Nabokov, and I have been reading to understand the man who anticipated all that – there was hardly anything published on the subject in the late 40s or early 50s.’
“I have supervised a PhD student whose life, and love of life, had been shattered by her father’s years-long abuse of her, but who wanted to work on Nabokov because he understood abuse and incest so well. After I gave a talk on Lolita in Sydney a woman in the audience, Barbara Biggs, inscribed for me two of her books recounting her own amazing story. Sold off by her mother to a lawyer at fourteen, Biggs was even more able than Lolita herself to rebound: she became a writer, a successful businesswoman, even a successful plaintiff against the man who almost destroyed her, and a champion of sexual abuse victims.”

I wish the Cossacks could hear this: this at least might be evidence they could understand.

Brian Boyd
On 26/05/2013, at 4:49 AM, Bruce Stone <bstone41@HOTMAIL.COM<mailto:bstone41@HOTMAIL.COM>>

The May issue of Numero Cinq contains an essay that I wrote on Nabokov's Lolita and its inflammatory subject, a response of sorts to the Cossack vandalism from earlier this year. The essay is churlish at times, but on the whole cheerful. While I offer what I think is a spirited defense of the novel, the article has an informative purpose: to bring together in a single place many of the major flare-ups of the debate. It might not interest Nabokov scholars as much as Nabokov's fans, but I was thinking that it might be a nice resource for students. The article also includes some thoughts on Mister Morn and The Enchanter.

The same issue of Numero Cinq also contains a thoughtful article on the poems of Osip Mandelstam.


Bruce Stone
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