Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004559, Thu, 11 Nov 1999 15:43:27 -0800

Re: [Hairy Hermpahrodite redeemed] (fwd)
EDITOR's NOTE. This suggestion has much to be said for it -- as one of
several subtexts.

From: Cornelis Boterbloem <kboterbloem@sympatico.ca>

Cannot the "hairy hermaphrodite" simply suggest the most obvious source
for the metaphor? Perhaps the most common example of a hermaphrodite is
the earthworm; that's what we were told in high school biology and we
even had to dissect one (the dictionary definition of "hermaphrodite"
includes the earthworm as a leading example). This worm happens to bear
a vaguely obscene, miniature, pink-fleshy resemblance to the (white
man's) penis; add some hair and you're there. The humour attached to
the separation of self --of Humbert's being able to observe his
offending organ with a self-deprecating displacement ("it has a life of
its own", albeit safely belittled and underground)-- seems to add
credibility to this artistic intention and simultaneously censoring
action ( in order to avoid detection by certain unwanted readers?).