Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005319, Sun, 9 Jul 2000 22:28:24 -0700

What was Gordon wearing? (fwd)
From: Arthur Glass <goliard@worldnet.att.net>

We are on the verge, in the depiction of Villa Libitina, of the depiction of
sexual excess in Ada. The choice, of course, is not between castrating
Manicheanism and libertinism. The love of John and Sibyl Shade is a tribute
to Nabokov's experience of the significance of sex within the bounds of a
committed relationship that includes affection, tenderness and concern for
another. That is an experience Kinbote can experience only in dreams.

----- Original Message -----
From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2000 1:09 PM
Subject: Re: What was Gordon wearing? (fwd)

> From: Jennifer Parsons <jdparsons@home.com>
> Arthur,
> You suggest "Gordon's unreflective hedonism is surely presented as more
> appealing than Gradus' gnostic denial of his body." We later learn even
> about Gradus's possible reason for denial of his body: he was "quite cured
> the lust that Nature, that grand cheat, puts into us to inveigle us into
> propagation" by repeat attempts to "castrate himself" - How cruel
Kinbote is
> to Gradus, presuming this is Kinbote's, not Shade's, contribution.
> I think Nabokov probably intends equal parts reader disgust for Gradus,
> low-grade, mindless, Soviet-like, grotesque, brown-suited automaton, and
> Quilty-household-like goings-on at the Lavender Villa, as embodied in the
> graceful/bestial/sullen/sly person of young Gordon. Gordon is certainly
> appealing, at least in form, than Gradus, but his situation at the
> villa is hardly beautiful. Agree, that Nabokov's stress is more on the
> whiff of pedophilia and sleaze - or to put it in more positive light - the
> pagan delights - at the Lavender Villa, than on the homosexual nature of
> sleaze/delights.
> The impression I get now, on re-reading these pages, is that Lavender has
> presumed that Gradus, as art dealer in homosexual and/or pedophiliac
> pornography, will likely enjoy the "company" of young Gordon, the
"nephew" of
> Lavender, to whom Gradus is introduced by "Mademoiselle Baud."
> Gradus, after questioning Gordon (while being given a tour) about the
> whereabouts of "your king" and getting all the information he is likely
> get, "spat in disgust" at the sight of the finally completely naked,
> boy. He then instantly receives a phone call from Lavender saying "Sure
> aren't a mucking snooper from that French rag?" and "A mucking, snooping
son of
> a bitch?" I now wonder if Lavender hasn't been watching from a window
> along, Gradus's and Gordon's progress around the grounds, and if perhaps
> wasn't set before Gradus as a trap. When Gradus proves indifferent in not
> taking "the jailbait," Lavender makes that phone call, almost as if he
> seen everything that has, or rather hasn't, happened.
> Galya Diment wrote:
> > From: Arthur Glass <goliard@worldnet.att.net>
> >
> > Mr Berg has also 'gotten it right' in that I neglected the description
> > 'the grceful boy wreathed about the loins with ivy.' The contrast with
> > Gradus in his brown suit is brought out in that sentence. The smell of
> > new suit is mentioned earlier, and could not have been anything less
> > sour on a hot afternoon. The contrast of pagan sexual delight and the
> > Puritanical uptightness of the Party man is more important here, I
> > than Nabokov's views on homosexuality. Gordon's unreflective hedonism is
> > surely presented as more appealing than Gradus' gnostic denial of his
> > Of course Gradus has increasing troubles to come with his physical self.
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>
> > Sent: Saturday, July 08, 2000 7:51 PM
> > Subject: Re: What was Gordon wearing? (fwd)
> >
> > > From: TENTENDER@aol.com
> > >
> > > Re note to line 408
> > >
> > > > The note seems to involve a superposition of sex and death.
> > >
> > > Mr. Glass seems to have gotten it right, although the superposition
> > > seem to be (not surprisingly, given the famous -- and one notes,
> > > uncontested -- VN negative attitude toward homosexuality) between not
> > but
> > > homosexuality and death.
> > >
> > > There is one (possibly merely metaphorical) costume change for Gordon
> > this
> > > note, not noted by Mr. Glass, for between the loincloth and the black
> > bathing
> > > suit, "the graceful boy" is found "wreathed about the loins with ivy."
> > >
> > > Christopher Berg
> > > Tentender@aol.com