NABOKV-L post 0022488, Mon, 27 Feb 2012 15:25:58 +0200

Re: Nabokov and Twelve-Year-Old Girls ...
Mary, I like what you said about HH feeling remorse only when he stops seeing her as a nymphet. The question I have is why should he have remorse other than because some deus ex machina wants it so. Wouldn't it be more in character on seeing pregnant, mousy Lolita to just go on his merry way and maybe dream of finding yet another nymphet?

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From: Mary H. Efremov
Sent: 2/27/2012 4:03
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Nabokov and Twelve-Year-Old Girls ...

I think throughout the text of the novel, HH expresses some shame and certainly guilt,but he is unwilling to stop the shameful behaviors.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Sun, Feb 26, 2012 2:36 pm
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Nabokov and Twelve-Year-Old Girls ...

JM: It's Humbert who refuses redemption after all (there are different motivations behind these refusals), and VN prefers to kill off most of the characters, just like it happens in his S,M and PF description of life: the novels will shine for a brief crack of light and then their covers close "like giant wings"...

The lines, with an "old poet's" message*, are at odds with what Humbert Humbert has written just before them It's almost as if his bout of sanity had been blown away right then, bringing him closer to HH's mood just before and after he murders Quilty. His state of mind is manic, or he remembers it that way while he is enthussing over his recollections of experiencing a desperately detailed awareness of the natural world (the day is sunny, the flowers are blooming, the clouds are embracing, the abyss is friendly). When he decides to "drive on the wrong side of the road" it's because, in his eyes, having killed Quilty is merely a common infrigement of human laws (which he confuses with traffic signs and conventions). It is when his remorse concerning the damage he inflicted on Lolita must be absent.,despite his missing her presence in the choir of children's voices.

The timing of the moments he is reproducing, while he seems to aim at "redemption," is complex and, at least, threefold. There's the recollection of a long past experience that was stimulated by the "friendly abyss" he is then admiring. But there's also the rendering of what is taking place right at the time when he is writing his confessions behind bars. Perhaps he is still fighting away the realization that the destruction of Lolita's childhood was criminal in more senses than one (not only Quilty's murder or driving on the wrong side of the road).

It's fairly obvious that HH only became a victim of remorse and guilt after he stopped seeing Lolita as a nymphet and his wild urge was under restraint. The winding road he takes in his first recollection, may transgress the straight one, but it also runs in parallel to it once in a while .However, after he kills Quilty, it's his car and his thoughts that oscilate and turn a straight road into a (the image, not the spirit, is similar from Charles Kinbote's reference, in PF, to the Biblical "the crooked made straight" and a Daedalian plan).

My chronology may be incorrect It most probably is - and it's a cold comfort to realize that this is not unusual. with readers of HH's confessions.
(we may even forget that there's only his words to prove that Lolita had always loved creepy and dissolute Quilty, making her equally dissolute, even before she met HH). Right now this is as far as I managed to go...

*"... Alas, I was unable to transcend the simple human fact that whatever spiritual solace I might find, whatever lithophanic eternities might be provided for me, nothing could make my Lolita forget the foul lust I had inflicted upon her. Unless it can be proven to me — to me as I am now, today, with my heart and by beard, and my putrefaction — that in the infinite run it does not matter a jot that a North American girl-child named Dolores Haze had been deprived of her childhood by a maniac, unless this can be proven (and if it can, then life is a joke), I see nothing for the treatment of my misery but the melancholy and very local palliative of articulate art. To quote an old poet: The moral sense in mortals is the duty/We have to pay on mortal sense of beauty."(The Annotated Lolita, page 282)


-----Mensagem Original-----

De: Steve Norquist


Enviada em: sábado, 25 de fevereiro de 2012 03:08

Assunto: Re: [NABOKV-L] Nabokov and Twelve-Year-Old Girls ...

Ed Allen had a cassette recording of VN reading the passage from Lolita in which Humbert murders Quilty that brought that part of the book to life in a very special way for me (and I also found it hilarious) the first time I heard it many years ago, despite its description by others as being a "dramatically flat reading." Of course with modern technology, it is generally available, and I now have an mp3 copy, but this and other VN readings may be heard and/or downloaded here:

On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 4:29 PM, R S Gwynn <> wrote:

In a message dated 2/24/2012 9:29:36 AM Central Standard Time, STADLEN@AOL.COM writes:

How can Humbert's so-called "redemption" entail his going straight off to commit his filthy murder, in which not he but another is Clearly Guilty -- both of child-sex-crime and his own murder? I am using Nabokov's own adjective: "There is no rhetorical link between a filthy murderer [Raskolnikov], and this unfortunate girl [Sonya]." (Lectures in Russian Literature, 1981, p. 110.) Nabokov was clear-sighted, not sentimental -- or, at least, much more clear-sighted than sentimental. His summing-up of Humbert was: "a vain and cruel wretch who manages to appear ' touching ' ''. (Strong Opinions, 1973, p. 84.) And: "Both [Hermann and Humbert] are neurotic scoundrels, yet there is a green lane in Paradise where Humbert is permitted to wander at dusk once a year; but Hell shall never parole Hermann." (Preface to Despair, 1965.) So a fraction of one-365th or -366th "redemption" is all that is granted Humbert by his creator, ten years on. Anthony Stadlen

Isn't Quilty guilty (sorry) of the same crimes as Humbert, or worse? Even Lo eventually finds C. Q. a little too creepy and abandons him. I don't know that I'd call the murder of Quilty "filthy" or even most foul and unnatural--as these things go. I'm not sure that I quite understand your initial question. Frankly, I'd find it easier to shoot Frank Langella than Peter Sellars, if a choice had to be made. I think a one-day parole is fair enough for H. H.

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