Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001155, Fri, 28 Jun 1996 10:18:36 -0700

unreliable narrators
Thanks to all of you who have responded to Jay Livingston's query
for examples of unreliable narrators. I shall be sending these out in a
moment. As a preface, I should like to call your attention to Nabokov's
stellar example, Humbert H. -- although Kinbote, the nameless
narrator of _The Eye_, Herman, & Vadim Vadimovich [LATH!] are also
obvious exemplars. Everyone knows that Humbert's account is unreliable,
but very few realize the extent. Several (mostly) recent studies very
persuasively argue that everything in LOLITA after HH's receipt of Lo's
letter is his account of his own delusions following an(other) massive
breakdown. Neither HH's final meeting with the pregnant Lolita nor the
murder of Quilty take place outside of Humbert's fevered brain. The
evidence for this radical interpretation is laid out in articles by
Alexander Dolinin and Julian Connolly in a special forum "Did Humbert
Kill Quilty?: The Chronology of LOLITA" in the 1995 issue of NABOKOV STUDIES.
Brian Boyd presents his counter argument in the same forum. Boyd's essay
is also availble on the Nabokov Web Site ZEMBLA at
http: //www.libraries.psu.edu/iasweb/nabokov/nsintro.htm
The Alexandrov & Connolly articles are available only in
the journal. Subscription information is at the web site and shall be
rerun on NABOKV-L.

D. Barton Johnson
Department of Germanic, Slavic and Semitic Studies
Phelps Hall
University of California at Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone and Fax: (805) 687-1825
Home Phone: (805) 682-4618