NABOKV-L post 0011867, Tue, 13 Sep 2005 21:40:29 -0700

Fwd: Out with the Closet
EDNOTE. A worthwhile thought on recent loose use of a murky term.

----- Forwarded message from -----
Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2005 22:58:52 -0400
From: Alexander Drescher <>
Reply-To: Alexander Drescher <>
Subject: Out with the Closet
---------------- Message requiring your approval (140 lines)
Dear List-

Before settling whether or not anyone was/is a "closet pedophile" it
might be useful to define this term. Perhaps I can be of help:

1. A person who molests children in a wardrobe?
2. A person who molests children but does not make this fact
3. A person who does not molest children but might like to?
4. A person who is not aware of harboring a wish to molest

As Options 1 and 2 specify types of pedophiles [as would "left-handed
pedophile", "frightened pedophile", "musical pedophile"], they seem
beside the point in this discussion.
Option 3 requires that thought or wish be equivalent to action.
Although this belief has a long and honorable history, both religious
and secular, those of us who - like the White Queen - can believe as
many as six impossible things before breakfast are in deep trouble
unless we can program our daily half-dozen fantasies into very narrow
channels. [After reading today's newspaper, I am a "closet assassin".
As yet, this seems safe to admit].
Option 4 by definition can not be an identity, even though a
wonderful epithet to throw at someone we neither like nor understand.
Yes, there is another; my favorite.

5. Delete the adjective.

-Sandy Drescher

On Tuesday, September 13, 2005, at 08:48 PM, Donald B. Johnson wrote:

> Dear List,
> I thought my abstract made it clear that Centerwall wanted to prove
> that VN
> was a "closet pedophile". I take the trouble (a final one) of quoting
> relevant sentences from the first page of his article which are
> unambiguous:
> " opportune moment to consider that most heretical of questions,
> was
> Vladimir Nabokov a closet pedophile?...Popular dogma notwithstanding,
> there
> are adequate grounds for concluding that he was, as this essay will
> demonstrate. More than mere intrusion into an author's private
> sexuality, at
> stake is the very meaning of Lolita. For however vehemently my thesis
> may be
> disputed, there can be no disputing the question's pivotal importance
> to any
> comprehensive understanding of Nabokov's masterpiece. If Nabokov was
> truly a
> closet pedophile, interpretations of Lolita that are predicated upon
> his
> presumed sexual orthodoxy are necessarily incorrect.
> I intrude upon Nabokov's privacy, but no offense need be taken...The
> late
> Mr. Nabokov's contact toward children was, and remains,
> unimpeachable...
> A final prefatory note: I take it as self-evident that Nabokov could
> easily
> create a convincing portrait of a pedophile even if he were not one
> himself.
> Therefore, I make no attempt to infer his pedophilia in so banal a
> manner.
> The real evidence lies elsewhere." p. 468
> A. Bouazza.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU]On
> Behalf Of Donald B. Johnson
> Sent: 13 September 2005 20:24
> Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Centerwall etc...
> Carolyn,
> I shall look for the article and see if I can post it to the list.
> While we don't know if Centerwall has called Nabokov a pedophile,
> we do know that Jo Morgan has. Still, of course, that does not make
> her claim that Nabokov had been molested as a child untrue. I agree
> that Nabokov does have a high degree of sensitivity to the pain of
> children subjected to abuse by adults, but couching the argument in
> terms of "closet child advocate" (this quote may be inaccurate it's
> what I remember of a now deleted JM message) again belies an agenda
> that undermines the credibility of the point. (Which of course
> doesn't mean it's still not true:>))
> ---Suellen
> --On Tuesday, September 13, 2005 9:14 AM -0700 "Donald B. Johnson"
> <> wrote:
>> ----- Forwarded message from -----
>> Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2005 07:01:45 -0800
>> From: Carolyn Kunin <>
>> Reply-To: Carolyn Kunin <>
>> Subject: Re: Centerwall etc...
>> To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
>>> Personally I find it incendiary and sensationalistic and
>>> therefore dishonest, to label someone a pedophile without
>>> voluminous evidence and to my mind, activity, even if you mean
>>> it in the strictest sense of the word (OED definition
>>> follows)and even if you could prove that that person HAD been
>>> molested as a child by an adult
>> Dear Suellen Stringer-Hye,
>> I agree with you. If Centerwall has labeled VN himself as a
>> pedophile, he had neither right nor reason to do so. The only
>> part of the theory that interests me is the possibility that VN
>> had been himself molested as a child. That unfortunately makes
>> devastating sense which I should hasten to add, doesn't make it
>> true.
>> Carolyn
>> ----- End forwarded message -----
> ---------------------------------------
> Suellen Stringer-Hye
> Vanderbilt University
> Website:
> Email: suellen.stringer-hye@Vanderbilt.Edu
> ----- End forwarded message -----
> ----- End forwarded message -----

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