NABOKV-L post 0006965, Fri, 25 Oct 2002 13:19:02 -0700

: Poor Hazel - reply to Mr Bolt
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Friedman" <>
To: "Vladimir Nabokov Forum" <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2002 12:30 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Poor Hazel - reply to Mr Bolt

> ----------------- Message requiring your approval (69
lines) ------------------
> --- "D. Barton Johnson" <> wrote:
> > Poor Hazel - reply to Mr Bolt
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Carolyn Kunin
> > To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
> > Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 9:06 PM
> > Subject: Poor Hazel - reply to Mr Bolt
> ...
> > That "Korean boy" gets invited to that rather exclusive party to
> > celebrate Shade's last birthday along with a celebrated American author
> > and a senator. He must have something going for him.
> A friend of the family, maybe. The only "exclusivity" I see at that
> party is that Kinbote isn't invited, presumably because Sybil can't
> stand him.
> > And there's nothing
> > about a person who becomes a nun that in itself is necessarily pathetic.
> > And you don't have to be a virgin to become a nun, either.
> But whether or not virginity is the right choice for some people,
> Shade describes Sybil as believing (and himself as not objecting)
> that Hazel has no choice, that she's too repulsive to have sex (at
> least on terms that Sybil will contemplate).
> > My own opinion, clever reading if you will, is that her father would
> > like us to think that her friends are pathetic outcasts, but there
> > really is no evidence that this is the case.
> >
> > There are a number of ugly women who have been successful - in love
> > among other things. Mrs Roosevelt comes to mind; the fictional giantess,
> > Liesl, in Robertson Davies' "Fifth Business" comes to mind, and the
> > non-fictional Pancho Barnes (read her biography "The Happy Bottom Riding
> > Club" for a very good time). There are many others, I assure you.
> Including a friend of mine, whose sex life (at least until her recent
> commitment to monogamy) tempted me to write an unauthorized biography.
> > An intelligent young woman with "great force of personality," who is
> > greatly loved by her doting mother and father, does not commit suicide
> > because she is ugly. No amount of empathy makes this believable.
> But I think her parents' attitudes toward her have a great deal to
> do with her suicide. Both John and Sybil seem to see Hazel's looks
> as disastrous. If we're going to have imaginative empathy for her,
> as Tom Bolt suggests, I think we need to imagine the effect of the
> relentless disappointment in her that Shade describes (and he may
> mislead us about Hazel's friends--I hadn't thought of that--but
> about his own part in her misery?).
> If Hazel had been a real person, we might wonder about her serotonin
> levels and all sorts of other information that, for a fictional
> character, is inaccessible even in principle. But I think we'd
> still suspect that her parents' inability to accept her physical
> ugliness contributed to her depression.
> My friend who I mentioned above has spoken about wanting to play
> Little Buttercup. If she had done so in grade school, I don't think
> her parents would have cried in the bathroom.
> ...
> Jerry Friedman
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