Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001392, Mon, 28 Oct 1996 17:29:03 -0700

Three Questions: Conan Doyle (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE. Julian W. Connolly <jwc4w@faraday.clas.virginia.edu>,
originator of the note below, is the author of _Nabokov's Early Fiction:
Patterns of Self & Other_ (Cambridge UP, 1992) and many other studies of
Nabokov. His article assessing the interpretive implications of a reading
of LOLITA in which HH only hallucinates his brief reunion with pregnant LO
and the murder of Quilty may be found in the 1995 issue of NABOKOV
STUDIES. (The issue also includes Alexander Dolinin careful argument
seeking to prove that the last portion of LOLITA is merely an
hallucination of the mad HH. Brian Boyd offers a defense of the
"traditional" reading.
As I followed the exchange of insights into the Pale Fire
citation, I was struck by the quote from Conan Doyle cited by
Tom Bolt (see below):

Stapleton turns out to be the villain of the story. As Watson
reports in Chapter 12, "All my unspoken instincts, my vague
suspicions, suddenly took shape and centred upon the
naturalist. In that impassive, colourless man, with his straw
hat and his butterfly net, I seemed to see something
terrible--a creature of infinite patience and craft, with a
smiling face and a murderous heart."

This very "creature," of course, crops up in LOLITA too, as
Humbert tries to describe the kind of individual who is drawn
to "nymphets": "You have to be an artist and a madman, a
creature of infinite melancholy, with a bubble of hot poison in
your loins and a super-voluptuous flame permanently aglow in
your spine . . . in order to discern at once . . . the little
deadly demon among the wholesome children" (Chapter 5).
Humbert is himself a perverse collector of sorts.