Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001501, Tue, 3 Dec 1996 10:45:05 -0800

Re: teen readers (fwd)
From: Amy_Hendrick@BAYLOR.EDU

Being chronologically challenged does
>not necessarily imply a lack of comprehension and maturity far beyond many
>people of greater years.

Fine. But *many* of us who happen to have that particular brand of chronological
challenge known as the teenage years (particularly those closer to ten than
twenty) are often both voraciously curious about sex and a bit confused by such
devices as the unreliable narrator (surely we can make the distinction between
recognizing this possibility and being derogatorily "ageist"). Of course, I'm
thinking of Lolita, as I suspect Mr. Williams was. Unless we're pretty sure of
dealing with a teen who is precocious in both ways, I would hesitate before
saying, in effect, "Here, dear, why don't you put down Huckleberry Finn and try
this piece of what has often been mistaken for pornography."
Let young teens discover Lolita on their own and decide if it's for them. I
shudder at the idea of "instructing" them in the book--or, as one list member
seemed to suggest, reading it with them before bedtime!--not the least because
that seems the absolutely wrong way to encourage them to enjoy it's mysterious,
pungent flavor (forbidden words, I know, on this theory-dominated list).

Christine C.