Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002385, Fri, 26 Sep 1997 09:48:39 -0700

Re: LOLITA's "Chestnut Lodge" (fwd)
From: "Peter A. Kartsev" <petr@glas.apc.org>

For what it's worth, I agree completely with Professor Dolinin's
arguments. Moreover, I think that common sense is also on his side. An
author constrained with a tiresome necessity of hiding Quilty's name, for
instance, in so many places, would never have reached that poetic fluidity
and beauty in his prose for which we all enjoy reading him. I think VN
gave his interpreters a sound advise to check the sand for their own
footprints. Then again, "Strong Opinions" contains a reply to one such
critic ("Rowe's Symbols") where VN explains that "an outsider, immune to
poetry and common sense" is not the best judge of what's actually been
hidden and where. I think there is also a passage in some interview where
VN says that he detests the bawdy and the picaresque in literature. Maybe
we shouldn't underrate him by ascribing to him the kind of fun and pun
that immature schoolboys enjoy in lavatories and suchlike places.

If all this seems too harsh, I hasten to add that it is, of course,
everybody's perfect right to interpret anything the way he or she pleases,
but there are cases when an interpretation tells us more of the critic's
predilections and idiosyncrasies than the author's.

Peter Kartsev.