NABOKV-L post 0016207, Wed, 16 Apr 2008 13:53:35 -0400

Subject
Re: QUERY: Lolita's subjectivity and America
Date
Body
Suellen,
I don't disagree with your thoughts below. The very fact--as Vera pointed out--that Dolores seems daily to be in tears (or on the verge of them) is enough--along with the other details you mention--to help us see that there is another girl beneath Humbert's mannequin. My response was to the question of whether we are able to access her subjectivity. It seems to me that the pang of sorrow that throbs through the book is largely produced by the realization that there is a Dolores in there whom we will never be able to reach. We glimpse her for a moment, but she is gone, replaced, before we can save her.

Best,
Matt

>>> On 4/15/2008 at 12:21 PM, in message <63566160FBD1BE43873B5A100A4222DF047597C1@mailbe17.email.Vanderbilt.edu>, "Stringer-Hye, Suellen" <suellen.stringer-hye@VANDERBILT.EDU> wrote:

I respectfully disagree with this conclusion. While it is true that Humbert’s first person narrative does create an illusory Lolita, the intricate patternings and images underlying that prose, reveal quite a bit about Dolores Haze, her real relationship with her mother, the loss of her brother and father, her teenage dreams and her adult difficulties. This seems to me Nabokov’s extraordinary achievement in Lolita--- and one that is often overlooked.
Suellen Stringer-Hye



From:Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of Matthew Roth
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 8:22 AM
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] QUERY: Lolita's subjectivity and America



Barrieasked: "What are the best writings, if any, on what it's like to be Lolita, or how someone becomes Lolita? Whose imagination imagines what Lolita is really like -- her subjectivity?"



MR: Most of the criticism I have encountered focuses on Humbert's "solipsizing" of Lolita. She has no subjectivity that we can access, since the Lolita we are given is, as Humbert says, "not she, but my own creation, another, fanciful Lolita--perhaps, more real than Lolita; overlapping, encasing her; floating between me and her, and having no will, no consciousness--indeed, no life of her own" (62 AnL). Leland de la Durantaye, in his excellent, very readable book Style is Matter: The Moral Art of Vladimir Nabokov, does a great job unpacking all of the repercussions (for Humbert and for us) of this deeply flawed imaginative act. As he puts it, Humbert "can only 'enjoy in peace' his vicious circle of paradise if the real little girl he is do desperately mistreating does not too violently interpose herself--and so he decides to 'firmly ignore' her in favor of the 'phantasm' first formed on this fateful Sunday [the davenport scene]" ( 72-73). I do not think it is possible to know or to guess who the actual (fictional) Dolores Haze might be, though we know that she is not the girl Humbert gives himself and, by extension, us.



Matt Roth

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