Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003410, Sat, 10 Oct 1998 11:08:35 -0700

Re: Lolita and Pedophilia (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jay Livingston <LIVINGSTON@saturn.montclair.edu>

The argument that Lolita is not about pedophilia reminds me of an
introduction that Milos Forman tacked on to some releseases of his film "The
Firemen's Ball." Forman, against a plain backdrop, speaks directly to the
camera. I wish I could quote his speech verbatim, but I saw this intro only
once, many years ago. Here's the gist of it.

When this movie was released in Czechoslovakia, firemen all over
the country protested that it portrayed them in a less than heroic way.
Because the goverment was responsive to the firemen and because the
government at the time more or less controlled the media, there was much
pressure to remove the film from circulation.

So, says Forman, we had to go around the country explaining that the
film was not really about firemen. Firemen were just a metaphor for [I forget
this important part--but I think it had something to do with workers or
capitalism or socialism or something that conformed to the political ideology
then dominant in Czechoslovakia]. Once it was explained that the film was not
really about firemen and was not portraying workers--government workers!--in a
bad light, the firemen were placated, at least enough that the film was not

But, continues Forman, the film *is* about firemen. . . .

And so on.

It seems that given the political climate surrounding pedophilia in the
U.S. today, certain spokespeople must claim that Lolita is not really about
pedophilia . . . . And so on.

And we don't even have a government threatening to ban the book.

Jay Livingston