Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024716, Wed, 23 Oct 2013 23:42:09 -0200

Re: Taking Humbert and Quilty Singularly
Carolyn Kunin: [ ] Mary thought I had "got the wrong Quilty" when I posited that Ivor Quilty was the more probable child molester (than either Humbert or Clare)... perhaps too glamorous Clare Quilty does not exist, except in Humbert's false or perhaps better say pseudo confession. I am suggesting that, just as in Pale Fire the perhaps too glamorous Charles Kinbote is an aspect of Shade and has no independant existence, Ivor (the dentist) Quilty, is the the only Quilty, and therefore the only pedophile who molests Lolita. Clare Quilty, like Vivian Darkbloom, is then a figment of Humbert's guilt-ridden imagination. [ ]You must understand that I am asking these questions in a speculative (mirroring?) sort of mood. Can't I then further ask, if Nabokov could create a first-person pedophile narrator without himself being a pedophile then, as worlds regress, could it not also be that his creation has himself created a first person pedophile narrator of a fiction entitled Confessions of a White Widowed Male. Speculatively speaking, of course. Jansy recently brought to our attention Don Johnson's Worlds in Regression, the title of which I seem to recall refers to VN's image of his works as paintings hanging somewhere in the ether for the viewer to contemplate - outside of time as it were. I have been attempting to do this, to put aside detailed analyses and close readings, and simply contemplate what I know of this and other works by Nabokov, and wonder if we haven't missed something.

Jansy Mello: Before you sent today's message I was totally confused by your new Lolita reading. It now begins to make sense, since I always felt the HH was inventing his experience with Lolita, even though there was a real pedophile involved his his report. He wasn't even imprisioned or charged of being a child molester, right?
However, my developments followed a different direction to remain, like yours, a distant speculation. In my view, HH confabulates the two Quilty cousins (who were both real in his fiction) into one cruel persecutory fictional Quilty wearing various disguises and roaming over all sorts of places.
The real Clare would have abused and jilted Lolita right from the start and this was something unbearable to HH in his ambivalent feelings (Lolita could not be rejected... she had to remain the most covetted nymphet in the entire world!)
Lolita was attracted to Quilty because she envied her mother's romantic attachments, first with him as a playwright* and lecturer - and then HH (the oedipal touch)
I think that your idea that HH is not the real molester, but a pervert called Quilty and was moved to write because of his love and guilt feelings in connection to Lolita is wonderful and worth exploring.


* Sometimes I make a mistake while spelling a familiar word and find myself unable to be certain that I'll be able to correct it. This is why I went to the wiki for help (I initially wrote playright and, sure enough, I knew it was wrong on both counts:in its spelling and "right" related to a pervert) :
The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder (as in a wheelwright or cartwright). Hence the prefix and the suffix combine to indicate someone who has wrought words, themes, and other elements into a dramatic form - someone who crafts plays. Thehomophone with write is in this case entirely coincidental.

The term playwright appears to have been coined by Ben Jonson in his Epigram 49, To Playwright,[1] as an insult, to suggest a mere tradesman fashioning works for the theatre. He always described himself as a poet, since plays during that time were written in meter and so regarded as the provenance of poets. This view was held even as late as the early 19th century. The term later lost this negative connotation.

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