NABOKV-L post 0011771, Sun, 4 Sep 2005 16:05:20 -0700

Subject
Fwd: Re: Response re Jo Morgan re Michael Maar's evidence on the
Lolita/Lichberg issue.
Date
Body
How true and beautifully said!

Vladimir

Apologies to List Master Don. The message I refered to
in my last post
was
not even sent. I found it among my drafts. I've done
some fast editing
to
omit unnecessary snottiness. I have left in the
second paragraph,
below,
however, as a cautionary example of writing while
impaired. The
digression
about Freud strikes me as comically irrelevant and
bassackward

The note below was written, apparently, in the very
early hours of
9.02.05:

Perhaps the best remarks have already been made on
this issue, and I
have
arrived late on the scene with an insight long ago put
forward and
dismissed, but it seems to me improbable that VN would
have secretly
encrypted, over a series of decades, the unremarkable
information that
his
uncle Ruka fondled him.

Nabokov's dismissive tone toward Freud is simply that
of an artist who
knows
far better than any psychiatrist -- and better than
most artists --
what the
true wellspring of creativity is. Dr.Freud's posting
of sign boards,
warning
signals, and suspiciously apt case histories have
always seemed like
the
infestation of rustic pedagogy one now finds all over
the finest trails
in
the greatest national parks in the world. In my
opinion, it is better
to let
ignorant and luckless tourists be eaten by the bears
and wolves of
which
these signs are meant to warn them. Do your homework
at home before
venturing into the wild -- and before entering the
wild side of art.

A writer of Nabokov's stature, which is to say an
artist of the stature
of a
James Joyce, which is to say artists worthy of
permission to sit at
table
with Shakespeare or Dante, does not waste his time
"encrypting
deliberate 'blunders' across his memoirs." Creating
multiple stories
such as
The Vane Stories, and creating dual -- and dueling --
worlds, such as
in
Pale Fire, are another thing altogether.

The encryption idea could only (and I
apologize to those in this profession who have been
kind enough to
tolerate
my intrusions) have been nurtured in the woolly world
of academia.
Speak,
Memory speaks frankly, briefly, and completely
sufficiently about Uncle
Ruka's predelictions -- predelictions that, in my mind
(and at the
extremely
innocuous level at which VN's memoirs describe him as
operating), make
him
no villian or monster. It wasn't until I was in my
forties that I
remembered
at least three specific instances from childhood of
this sort of thing
happening to me. Two occasions were at the municiple
swimming park, and
one
was in the basement of an elderly man on our block who
had a remarkable
stamp collection, a marvelous aquarium, and an odd way
of suggesting
that
you and he go to use the bthroom at the same time.

It was not cause for lynching; it simply gave credence
to my
mother's puzzling warnings about not sitting alone
among unfamilar
grown
men when I went to the movies, and of spending no more
time than
necessary
in the bathhouse and showers at the city swimming pool
when I was ten
or
eleven years old.

Ruka was old enough to know that the English poet and
playwright Wilde
had
been put to two years hard labor (practically a death
sentence for a
man of
Wilde's age and condition in those days) for advancing
more deliberate
and
intricate embraces with rough trade kids who
knew an easy way to get a few pounds off a toff.

Your statement, Jo, that you have managed to prove
that Nabokov wrote
Lolita
as a semi-autobiographical/semi-fictional account of
his own terrible
incestuous abuse at the hands of his pedophilic Uncle
Ruka is not
credible to me. A genius pushing sixty does not create
a masterpiece
merely
in order to vent an ancient grudge.

Regarding what you describe as "gender-bending" games
e.g. 'boys knees,
'butcher-boy' pyjamas 'tomboy shirt', refer to girl
childrens' fashions
in
the forties. Possibly the last generation when girls
clothes differed
from
womens' clothes. Boys knees is a legitimate and
unloaded description.
Today
"boy shorts" are a style of
women's underwear I see advertised in VC whenever I'm
giving my wife's
lingerie catalogs a thoughtful perusal. Judging from
the girls
modeling them, they have an agreeably feminine
appearance.

I would advise caution with regarding any analysis of
"the author's"
closing
confession in his so-called 'novel' Lolita - "I have
camouflaged what I
could so as not to hurt people." Do you really think
that Vladimir
Nabokov,
worried that much about "hurting people" if art seemed
to require it?
Boyd's life provides evidence to the contrary, I
think.

But something must be said about your categorizing as
a "blatant lie"
Nabokov's postscript tale about a US publisher who had
once supposedly
proposed he replace his 12 year old girl, in Lolita,
with a boy. The
way
Nabokov describes this, in a letter to Bunny Wilson,
has an authentic
tone.

Or maybe he was entertaining a friend with a tale of
the type of thing
that
would happen and did happen and does happen to writers
all the time,
from
film directors, creative directors, editors and agent.
VN, as an
artist,
knew that one of the dangers that life holds for the
artist (as the
world
holds dangers for its children) are that their are a
sharklike variety
of
biografiends who are clearly consumed with envy and
hatred for
their superiors, and look long and hard, and
mendaciously for leveling
tales
to tell.

For example, his earlier fan, the scholar who took as
absolute gospel
Nabokov's story of
the inspiration for Lolita coming from a supposed news
story about an
ape in
a cage in
Paris who one day executed a charcoal drawing of the
bars of its cage.
The
scholar actually spent years trying to find the
"newspaper
story" which, of course, Nabokov had pulled from his
backside in a
moment
of happy inspiration, just to illustrate a point.

Andrew Brown

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