Robert Roper: “...I'm afraid I've read the extensive Mexico-oiserie in Lolita, which you present with casual thoroughness in your note, without much imagination. HH, a quick study in many ways, picks up the standard U.S. attitude toward Mexico, which is that it is exotic and not that far […] There are Mexican notes all over Lolita's genesis, true. Then during the years of her captivity, her stepfather toys with the idea of escaping "over the border" just as U.S. citizens have been doing since at least the 1850s, when on the lam for any number of reason [ … ] I tend to see HH's toying with the idea of a Mexican escape as more evidence of his ongoing Americanization [… ]There is an irony in that getting across borders has been liberating for HH in the past. But now that string is running out for him. Just on the level of a novelist trying to write a shapely fiction: what would N. have gained by giving Lolita a ballooning interior third or fourth act, with equivocal adventures in the land of norteno music and the PRI? HH's encounter with the territorial U.S. is already immensely suggestive….I fear I have failed to answer any of your excellent questions*. Please forgive me.”
Jansy Mello: Actually, a little after I addressed my questions to you I realized how inadequate they were. They came as a result of my surprise at concluding that Lolita’s name must have been particularly inspired by something Mexican ( VN’s description of Mexico-oiserie is ingeniously cruel, as in the lines “a honeymoon trip to Vera Cruz, and mementoes, among these Dolores, were all over the place…”) which happened at the same time in which I read about your new book: I let my enthusiasm carry me away. Your reply came as a surprise because you managed to accommodate them quite well ( HH’s ongoing Americanization and his representation about the standard U.S attitude toward Mexico and more). Thank you.
*- “I was particularly interested in the information about Robert Roper’s fascination with Nabokov’s “serial sojourns into the wilds of the West”( the title “Nabokov in America” has an additional “On the Road to Lolita”…). I wonder if the author could offer a preview of his ideas about the importance of Mexico to Nabokov, who has Lolita’s conception taking place in Vera Cruz, and to transgressor Humbert Humbert’s qualms about “crossing a border” ? There are other borders being crossed in VN’s novels, is this a parallel to them? Why “Conception Park” is situated in the US, although “in a town on the Mexican border”? What does HH mean by “be happy abroad” in a sentence in which he only mentions, again, the Mexican border?” (JM)