Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005215, Mon, 26 Jun 2000 13:36:16 -0700

Re: Teaching Lolita (fwd)
From: naiman@socrates.berkeley.edu

I would suggest encouraging your class to read Appel's introduction
closely. That will alert them to many of the central themes in the novel
and suggest what they should look for. You should encourage them to
read Appel critically. Ask them for their opinions of the introduction
and the personality of its author. This discussion usually leads to a
consideration of the anxieties that Nabokov provokes. It will open up
interesting questions of discipleship and authorized
interpretation. Encourage members of your class to make lists of
annotations/footnotes with which they disagree. Your class should also
make lists of unfamiliar vocabulary items and look them up. (A vocabulary
quiz -- perhaps as part of the final -- is useful; many students enjoy
this exercise, believe it or not).
I would suggest short writing assignments, close readings of
chapters. The last chapter of part one is not too intimidating and should
lead to useful discussion.
In more advanced classes, I have assigned Linda Kauffman's chapter. (I
don't have her book at hand; I think it is called Love Letters). You
might also summarize its contents. You could also summarize the debate on
time conducted by Dolinin/Connolly/Boyd in Nabokov Studies (#2). These
articles lead to interesting discussions on how to read, on what matters
or doesn't matter.
Many students think that aesthetic appreciation of Lolita requires that
they check their libido at the school-house door. Reassure them that
Lolita is in many respects a lewd book and that they cannot fully
appreciate it without a dirty mind.

Eric Naiman
On Sat, 24 Jun 2000, Galya Diment wrote:

> From: Anna Riehl <ANYA17@prodigy.net>
> Greetings, everyone,
> Last month I asked for ideas about teaching *Lolita*, and now my
> Introduction to Literature class is a week away from the novel... My
> colleagues were skeptical about my choice of fiction (Kafka went a bit
> smoother than VN, mostly due to the shortness of *The Metamorphosis*). I was
> told to consider a Latino or Asian novel in order to please more students in
> our diverse university. I decided to give *Lolita* a try anyway. I just have
> to remind myself that my classroom is unlikely to be filled with little
> me-s, much less with little nabokovs. What kind of activities, besides
> reading, deciphering, and admiring, can one utilize in an introductory
> course like this (condensed in summer on top of that)?
> I am using Appel's *Annotated Lolita*. I told my students that this is
> the best edition there is... However, they will be reading about 50 pages
> for each class, and I am really unsure as to how to approach and treat the
> text when it is delivered in chunks like that... What should I do with the
> clues referring to Quilty, for instance? Should I give them all away or
> ignore them and encourage the students to reread the novel after the
> semester is over?
> So far the only two approaches I see are close reading and viewing
> Kubrick's / Lane's rendition of certain episodes. Analyzing a handful of the
> most outrageous book covers seemed like a good entry into cultural
> interpretation of the novel. However, I could not get my hands on "Paperback
> Nabokov".
> I know many of you on this list have taught *Lo*, and others probably
> have some good advice as well. I appreciate any hints, ideas, etc. Nabokv-L
> is truly the best community for this purpose, and I may be the only person
> in my Chicago University who dares (or, to be more precise, cares) to teach
> VN.
> Thanks to everyone in advance,
> Anna Riehl
> anya17@prodigy.net or ariehl1@uic.edu
> Ph.D. candidate
> University of Illinois at Chicago
> Department of English