Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001307, Sun, 15 Sep 1996 11:57:19 -0700

4) Walteer-Schiff Exchange on Lyne's LOLITA(fwd)
An afterthought: It seems that Mr. Schiff was particularly piqued by my
suggestion that Lyne might have been using the sensationalistic press for
his own advance-publicity purposes in the EW article or the Times piece.
As Schiff no doubt knows, the suggestion was made (to fail of coining a
phrase) entirely tongue-in-cheek. But I probably also failed to make it
clear just how relieved I would be to learn that Lyne _did_ in fact
ghost-write the Times piece, or that he _did_ in fact know precisely the
kind of raw meat the EW reporter would pounce upon in the name of the
magazine's 'readership,' and that the director therefore planted all his
quotations (without the clueless reporter realizing it) for what modest
provocative value they might still have with a movie-going populace as
jaded as ours. After all, what strategy could be more cleverly
Nabokovian than to manipulate the tabloid press a la the proverbial
unreliable narrator who fails to realize how carefully his words have
been placed within a larger context that makes them contribute
unwittingly to an overarching design entirely beyond the poor eidolon
narrator's ken? Far from decrying the possibility of such devious
motives and strategies in Lyne, I would applaud them.

It has been clear through this whole process that Schiff's investment in
this film is not merely professional, but enormously personal. Perhaps
that is the root of the problem: Schiff seems just a bit too willing to
stand by his work, a bit too ready to take criticism personally instead
of laughing his way to the bank with so many other media shysters who
really couldn't care what sort of snake oil they pass on to the public as
long as the fools are willing to part with their gold for the sake of
swallowing it. To the extent that this is true of Schiff, to the extent
that he takes his portion of the task of adapting Nabokov's novel for the
screen as not merely a springboard to bigger and better financial things
but much more importantly as a rare privilege with enormous
responsibilities, it is, one should ackowledge, a hopeful sign (however
unlikely such an entire lack of cynicism may seem).

Brian Walter
University of the Ozarks
415 N. College Avenue
Clarksville, AR 72830
(501) 979-1339 or 754-3499