Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026551, Wed, 21 Oct 2015 01:53:16 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] [Query] L*lita's homelessness and inheritance III
Barrie Akin: As regards Jansy's questions on inheritance, a simplified answer is that things are indeed different in America from countries with a continental European derived system such as, say, Brazil, but you have to remember that the laws of the individual US states, at least in the 1940s, when Charlotte dies, varied considerably. The whole subject is also bedevilled by the intricacies of the English law of succession as it was applied (by no means uniformly) in the colonial territories of North America and, of course, as modified thereafter. A lot would depend on whether Charlotte died having made a will. I can't recall any mention of that in the novel.[ ] But isn't this really beside the point? I don't think it matters what financial resources Dolores has available to her. Humbert's coerces Dolores into submission by threatening her with being incarcerated for her own misdeeds if she seeks help. [ ] And even when she writes to Humbert in 1952, Dolores is, I think, only 17 and would either still have felt unsure about her position with the authorities or possibly have assumed that, as Charlotte's widower, Humbert would have had de facto control of her estate, whatever the legal position might turn out to be.

Jansy Mello: A thoughtful and informative answer. You wrote that what matters in the novel are not the financial resources available to Dolores but the fact that she’d been coerced into submission by her stepfather. True. However, it was the first time that I fully realized that the effectiveness of Humbert’s threats was very real (and you confirmed that) and probably rather common, so that many actual young children could be rendered helpless in similar situations - and not only in America [the project outlined by HH in “Lolita” is the same one that is found in his earlier (Continental?) novel, “The Enchanter”: “There may have been times — there must have been times, if I know my Humbert — when I had brought up for detached inspection the idea of marrying a mature widow (say, Charlotte Haze) with not one relative left in the wide gray world, merely in order to have my way with her child (Lo, Lola, Lolita).”]

My question wasn’t primarily associated to HH’s horrific sexual rape of his charge but to it’s not being an exception outside of the gray world of fiction and, most of all, because of the chain of partially hidden deprivations it implies, such as an orphaned child’s overall “rootlessness.” ( Yes. I was rather slow to grasp and to feel the enormity of that “Gray Star” because I’d mainly focused on HH’s sexual perversion ).

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