Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004787, Sat, 19 Feb 2000 12:10:56 -0800

Re: Boyd's Pale Fire & homophobia (fwd)
Robert Myers wrote:

> I think the lack of a taboo does have an effect. Much of the incredible
> disorientation and ambiguity of a book like Lolita rests on the fact that
> the reader considers having sex with 12-year-olds to be wrong. If we could
> argue this question convincingly, as Humbert tries to do, I think the
> meaning of Lolita would be drastically altered.

Well, much of the effect of many books from different centuries and
cultures rest on the assumption that having premarital sex is wrong
and punishable for a woman. That assumption is no longer true in the
Western world; does it mean we cannot enjoy these books anymore?

Many plots in great literature depend crucially on the notion of
honor that is different, to put it as mildly as I can, from the modern
notion of honor. Most of us no longer believe in killing someone who
insults us, or even our mothers. Does it follow that the meaning of the
books is drastically altered?

Like several other people who commented on this thread, I'm amazed
(perhaps 'flabbergasted' is a better word) by this discussion of Nabokov's
supposed homophobia. By all means, when we are done with it, let us move
to Nabokov the sexist pig, as evidenced by the way the heroine of _Laughter
in the Dark_ is portrayed.

Anatoly Vorobey,
mellon@pobox.com http://pobox.com/~mellon/
"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly" - G.K.Chesterton