Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001511, Wed, 4 Dec 1996 14:42:00 -0800

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

On Wed, 04 Dec 1996 : Roy Johnson <Roy@mantex.demon.co.uk> wrote:

> On this issue of reading, 'innocence', and the Teen,
> I have often wondered as follows:
> 1. If someone is too young to understand the subtle and
> even possibly corrupting influence of a self-justifying
> narrator such as HH, then no corruption will take place.
> 2. If the same person is old enough to understand 'what
> is going on' [nudge, nudge] then they [sic] must also have the
> capacity to deal with the issues.
> No problem in either case.
> Roy Johnson
But I do have a few problems with this: if the "self-justifying narrator"
is a "possibly corrupting influence," then you've as much as admitted that even
if the reader understands "'what is going on,'" he or she could still choose to
side with Humbert's view of things (and, with raging hormones complicating
things, may well do this). And I wouldn't underestimate the human capacity to
have an intellectual understanding of why certain behavior is unacceptable and
even harmful but be unable or unwilling to act accordingly. You may have been
blessed with a perfect match of action to thought from an early age, but I have
known few fourteen year olds for whom this is true. Just look at the prevailing
rock scene (I mean the hard-core stuff, not Madonna): the stars are very often
blatantly self-destructive and even sing about the problems of being this
way--and yet, they inspire imitation, from their drug habits to their postures
of self-hatred to their pale, pathetically thin physiques. We've all felt a
twinge of it--reading a novel about some splendidly decadent tragedy, we may
feel a little envious of such suffering, which is so much more glamorous or even
just more intense than our own lives.
Not that, once again, I would actually stop ANYONE from reading
Nabokov--but that it is possibly corrupting to some, I can't deny. I wish I

Christine C.