Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A vast deal of meaty piquant material covered today, just from the first sentance of Lolita. The foreward by John Ray Jr.(jr. jr. hee, hee) begins "Lolita, or the Confession of a White Widowed Male" . A parallel was then drawn between this, and the black widow--the hated venomous spider--, and a passage on page 49 on which Humbert Humbert says "I am like one of those inflated pale spiders you see in old gardens." I'd read the book before, and caught quite a few things, but this I had not. Curiouser and curiouser...

One of the things mentioned in class is the charge against N. that is occasionally brought up by those who are offended by the protagonist of Lolita: if he writes such a loathsome character, they say, than he must have been like this(ie. a psychotic pedophile)too. Well, even disregarding momentarily the biographical information that N. adored his wife and was apparently completely faithful to her all the fourty-some years of their marriage, it ought to be borne in mind that the real test of imagination is being able to create characters who are not like yourself. Shakespeare is a major instance of this, given all the horrible villains and murderers he penned. Does that mean Shakespeare was himself like Iago or Edmund or Macbeth? No; same goes for N. and many other major writers.

At one point in Speak Memory N. speaks about his favorite author, Serin, and all of his amazing virtues. But there's just one problem... Serin doesn't exist. N. made him up! Go figure.

And apparently Dmitri Nabokov, son of N., has cleared for the release of his father's final, unfinished novel The Original of Laura, which will be published in November. N.'s desire apparently was for the book not be published as it was, since he hadn't gotten it to the aesthetic point where he felt it should be, and asked for it to be burned. So is his son doing the right thing? Well, its a situation that has presented itself quite a few times in literary history. Kafka asked for his papers to be burned, and they weren't; Virginia Woolf requested in her suicide note that all of her remaining papers and journals be burned, but her husband Leonard kept them. If these wishes had been followed, there would be a great deal of these writers' work which we wouldn't have or know about. Intriguing dilemma.

And, paronomasa, which means word-play. Which N. did in abundance.

"Reverting to his professional state, he drove the Humberts to their residence and all the way Valeria talked, and Humbert the Terrible deliberated with Humbert the Small whether Humbert Humbert should kill her or her lover or both or neither."(Lolita, page 29)

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