NABOKV-L post 0011937, Mon, 19 Sep 2005 19:33:14 -0700

Subject
Fw: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was
Date
Body
Re: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was
----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin
To: D. Barton Johnson
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2005 5:31 PM
Subject: Re: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was


----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin <mailto:chaiselongue@earthlink.net>
To: D. Barton Johnson <mailto:chtodel@cox.net>
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2005 10:44 AM
Subject: FW: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was



Dear Dmitri,

I was very glad to read both your letter to Don and his reply. And if any of my comments recently have added in any way to your distress I beg your forgiveness. Your description of your father was a tonic: what a pure, gentle, funny, utterly normal man he was.

I have no doubt that if I had met him, this is the person I should have met. He was after all the creator of Pnin, and for that alone should be remembered with gratitude forever.

But he also created Pnin's destroyer. He created Lolita, but he also created Humbert & Quilty. He created Aqua, but he also created Marina who probably murdered her, not to mention Vaniada. His ability to imagine evil, especially sexual evil, is so fiendishly good, is it any wonder it gives some of us pause?

The "porno-graph record" as you so wittily call it, was an aspect of your father's work too. It just strikes me as odd (at least it strikes me now, since the subject was recently thrust unwanted upon us) that this aspect of your father's work has not - - so far as I can recall - - been addressed by any of his serious critics. Or am I mistaken?

It does seem that, perhaps just for the reason that his serious critics have chosen to ignore this aspect of his work, that it has taken on the quality of an elephant in the room. Someone points to it, and we are all surprise and shock. Elephant? what elephant?

But the pornographic aspect is there still and all. Maybe you are correct, and it is the virtuosity of your father's imagination that explains its force. His brilliant portrayal of the insane homosexual Kinbote never for a moment caused me to think he might himself be either homosexual or insane. No one who takes him seriously can possibly confuse him with pervert Humbert.

But there do seem to be some things about Nabokov we still don't know.

freundliche Grüsse von Deine
Carolyn