NABOKV-L post 0026580, Wed, 28 Oct 2015 20:56:27 -0700

Subject
Re: The name of L*lita
Date
Body
Dear Professor Boyd,

You flatter me unintentionally - my German is hardly to be compared
with Nabokov's French - and yet I didn't have any difficulty
translating the von Lichberg - would I try to read a scientific paper
in German? not I.

My German was high school and one year in college and a year in
Salzburg, where they speak a dialect. I have never read Thomas Mann
for example or any other literary work. The language in "Lolita" is
pretty basic, the story is engaging and easy to read. If Dmitri
Nabokov hadn't goaded me I would never have attempted it.

As I said, you flatter me. Nabokov could have easily read von
Lichberg's story in the original language. Sans blague.

Carolyn


On Oct 27, 2015, at 10:48 PM, Brian Boyd wrote:

Dear all,

I agree wholeheartedly with Maurice, and especially his closing
remark, his surprise at the attention Maar’s claims have earned.

VN did not know German well enough (see Dieter Zimmer’s observation on
a small sample of Nabokov’s written German, in Letters to Véra, p. 705
in the UK edition, 703 in the US edition being published next week,
and much corrected from the UK edition) to be tempted to read anything
but German Lepidoptera articles in his youth. He knew French very well
indeed, and Larbaud’s “Lolita est une petite fille; Lola est en âge de
se marier; Dolores a trente ans; Doña Dolores a soixante ans” is far
closer to Nabokov than anything in Lichberg, even in Maar’s strained
parallels. Humbert was conceived of as French from the first, from the
time when Lolita was to be called Juanita Dark (in allusion to
France’s most famous female, whom VN thought should be referred to
correctly as Joaneta Darc); Humbert’s Anglo-French background was
essential, in many ways, to his story, and Nabokov even had to be
persuaded by his first publisher, a Frenchman, to cut many of the
preening French phrases with which Humbert peppered his English
narrative.

Nabokov clearly drew on many sources for his work, including Lolita,
but why identify as a source for Lolita a dull and soon forgotten
story in a language he did not read, when there are much more obvious
sources, including in his own earlier work?

Brian Boyd


On 28/10/2015, at 4:04 pm, NABOKV-L, English <nabokv-l@HOLYCROSS.EDU>
wrote:

> Maurice Couturier writes:
>
> Dear List,
>
> Jansy says that "it is highly possible that VN had read Lichberg’s
> 'Lolita'”. Maybe, but Nabokov had plenty of possible sources for the
> name; he himself mentioned that it occurs in "Monte Cristo". In a
> previous mail, I gave a list of books published in France before 1955
> with "Lolita" in their titles, one Henri Houssaye's "Lolita" (1945)
> telling a story close to that of "Transparent Things", but Brian says
> that Nabokov mentioned it much later in his diary. I have discovered
> yet
> another book with a character named Lolita, Pierre L'Hermite's
> "Comment
> j'ai tué mon enfant" (a good subtitle for Nabokov's novel, by the
> way).
> Lichberg's story has a great deal less in common with VN's "Lolita"
> than
> many of the books I have just mentioned. And of course, there is
> Valéry
> Larbaud's long deconstruction of the name Lolita dated 1927. The
> publicity given to Maar's book has always amazed me.
>
> Maurice Couturier
> .
>
>
> --
> Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
> Co-Editor, NABOKV-L
>
> Google Search
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