NABOKV-L post 0026601, Thu, 5 Nov 2015 11:22:27 -0800

Dear List,

Here is a partial translation of Maurice Couturier's "PS" - Lolita is
both the first and the last word in H.H.'s narration. In a Playboy
interview Nabokov explained his choice of the name [this is the
original English from the internet]:

Nabokov: For my nymphet I needed a diminutive with a lyrical lilt to
it. One of the most limpid and luminous letters is “L.” The suffix “-
ita” has a lot of Latin tenderness, and this I required too. Hence:
Lolita. However, it should not be pronounced as you and most Americans
pronounce it: Low-lee-ta, with a heavy, clammy “L” and a long “o.” No,
the first syllable should be as in “lollipop,” the “L” liquid and
delicate, the “lee” not too sharp. Spaniards and Italians pronounce
it, of course, with exactly the necessary note of archness and caress.
Another consideration was the welcome murmur of its source name, the
fountain name: those roses and tears in “Dolores.” My little girl’s
heart-rending fate had to be taken into account together with the
cuteness and limpidity. Dolores also provided her with another,
plainer, more familiar and infantile diminutive: Dolly, which went
nicely with the surname “Haze,” where Irish mists blend with a German
bunny—I mean a small German hare.
Playboy: You’re making a word-playful reference, of course, to the
German term for rabbit—Hase. But what inspired you to dub Lolita’s
aging inamorato with such engaging redundancy?

Nabokov: That, too, was easy. The double rumble is, I think, very
nasty, very suggestive. It is a hateful name for a hateful person. It
is also a kingly name, and I did need a royal vibration for Humbert
the Fierce and Humbert the Humble. Lends itself also to a number of
puns. And the execrable diminutive “Hum” is on a par, socially and
emotionally, with “Lo,” as her mother calls her.

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