NABOKV-L post 0010816, Thu, 16 Dec 2004 15:13:32 -0800

Fwd: X-men Xavier + Kinbote

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Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 01:13:53 EST

well, i have no evidence for what i'm about to speculate, but here goes:

In the early '60s, comic books and their creators were certainly on the edge
of the emerging "counter-culture" --- amongst whose adherents the idea of
blending high culture with low culture -- and of legitimating "low" culture like
comic books, would have been very popular...

The whole concept of the X-men is very counter-culture, a group of "mutant"
teenagers trained by the wheelchair bound but brillant Professor Xavier. Shades
of Herbert Marcuse or C. Wright Mills, of Kinsey, of SDS -- not to mention
the civil rights movement -- because the X-men are "mutants" who are
discriminated against by mainstream society and have to fight for acceptance
their brave deeds...definitely a lot of symbolism for the real events going on
in the South, in Vietnam, on college campuses...

The writers of the X-men comic book would stereotypically have been beatnik
intellectuals, smoking pot, involved or at least aware of radical politics, and
readers of controversial writers like Nabokov. Just as Sting and the Police
evoke Humbert Humbert in their song a generation later, the writers of the
X-men may well have read "Pale Fire" and used the name as an allusive inside

Nabokov in the '60s was a living, controversial, best selling writer not
confined to the universities or the academy. The original paperbacks, as you can
see from their covers, were marketed towards a mass audience; how different
from the Vintage editions of today, with their tasteful and subdued covers that
proclaim, "i am serious literature for a refined reader." Back then, VN was
on mainstream TV, made the cover of TIME magazine, and so would have been very
accessible even to readers of comic books.

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