Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004402, Thu, 23 Sep 1999 16:51:09 -0700

Query: Carroll/Nabokov (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kandmleach@aol.com

I am curious about the linguistic and other links between Carroll and

To explain something of where I am coming from:
My new biography of Carroll 'In the Shadow of the Dreamchild' has just come
out in the US. It's what PR people call a 'controversial' (hate the word),
attempt to strip away a huge accretion of mythology from the man's life and
discover some of the buried realities.
I contend that he was never the marginal deviant that many (including N.)
have believed.
I have analysed the curious pervasive development of this mythology, and the
apparent need there seems to have been to believe, in a quasi-religious
sense, in this invented 'carroll' as part saint part sacrificial deviant.

As a connected issue, it interests me to consider how much this entirely
false image may have influenced N. in producing his own masterpiece. The
distaste N. had for Humbert seems to have been mirrored in his response to
Carroll, the man. One receives the impression that he, either consciously
or unconsciously, linked the two rather closely. Humbert's mocking wit,
his endless wordplay, his strain of cruelty are all very carrollian.
Carroll/Alice imagery is thickly scattered through the text. I suggest
Nabokov's private view of Carroll's paedophile legend was perhaps as much
of an influence on 'Lolita' as Joyce's own fascinated ambivalence toward
the same legend was on the making of 'Finnegan's Wake'. Jeff Edmunds
suggested to me that you may know of any comment (other than in the
published sources), N. made on Carroll's work or his popular image as
'paedophile' . If you do I would welcome any suggestions. But even more
I'd be interested in your personal response, if you feel like sending any

Best wishes,

Karoline Leach