Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022582, Mon, 12 Mar 2012 09:45:29 -0400

Re: Back to Bruce Stone:" Editorial In(ter)ference: Errata and

In a message dated 12/03/2012 10:22:38 GMT Standard Time,
stevenorquist@GMAIL.COM writes:

Do you see a hint in this sentence ("...I would have given Humbert at
least thirty-five years for rape, and dismissed the rest of the charges...")
that perhaps the murder of Quilty is "imaginary" after all? What judge worth
his/her salt would nonchalantly dismiss a murder (generally considered the
most serious crime of all)?

What judge? Why, our own dear Humbert Humbert. How could he possibly be
worth his salt as a judge? He is a murderer, who denies that his murder is
morally wrong. His "moral apotheosis" -- what a joke -- is almost exclusively
a self-indulgent wallowing in guilt feelings about Lolita. All right, he
gives her some money. (It's worth considering to what extent this is a
criminal's payment of hush money.) But what is he thinking about during his
final meeting with her on 23 September when she is pregnant? Overwhelmingly,
his concern is to establish Quilty's name and whereabouts, so that he can
kill him. Consider how he talks to Mrs Chatfield on his return to Ramsdale the
next day, 24 September? She is rude in saying she doesn't approve of early
marriages (i.e. Lolita's), but he thinks, and clearly still thinks, in
gaol, that this justifies his replying to her telling him that the "poor boy"
Charlie Holmes "has just been killed in Korea" by asking "didn't she think
'vient de,' with the infinitive, expressed recent events so much more
neatly than the English 'just,' with the past. But I had to be trotting off, I
said." This is a nasty, snobbish, sadistic man, consumed not by guilt about
what he has done to Lolita but by hatred of other males (Charlie Holmes,
Clare Quilty) who have had some kind of sexual relationship with her. He is
planning to commit a foul murder the next day. How could such a man's
nonchalantly dismissing that murder be evidence that it did not happen?

A further thought. If Nabokov is correctly quoted as saying that Humbert
changes morally, because he comes to love Lolita "as a woman should be
loved", then, to put it charitably, Nabokov himself must have allowed his
"creature" Humbert's rhetoric to seduce his own moral sense. Humbert is Lolita's
stepfather. What kind of "moral apotheosis" would lead him to "love her as
a woman should be loved" and beg her to leave her husband and come to live
with him? This is a superior kind of incest, is it?

Anthony Stadlen

Anthony Stadlen
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Founder (in 1996) and convenor of the Inner Circle Seminars: an ethical,
existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy
"Existential Psychotherapy & Inner Circle Seminars" at
_http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/_ (http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/) for programme of
future Inner Circle Seminars and complete archive of past seminars

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