Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000353, Tue, 25 Oct 1994 10:51:02 -0700

Lolita's Simian Genesis
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Roy Johnson <Roy@mantex.demon.co.uk>
To: nabokv-L@UCSBVM.ucsb.edu

Dieter Zimmer is tireless in his pursuit of 'real life'
equivalents for VN's fictional world, but I think he may
be misleading himself in searching for apes and iron bars
as the background to *Lolita*.

The zoo scene 'explanation' of the novel's origin always
struck me as a very typical piece of VN mischief - misleading
and heading off critics (especially in the case of a novel
which he knew to have such controversial a subject).

If we read the Afterward carefully, there are some interesting
sleights of hand. "The initial shiver of inspiration was *somehow*
prompted [my emphasis] by a newspaper article ... The impulse
I record had *no textual connection* [my emphasis again] with
the ensuing train of thought, which resulted, however, in a
prototype of my present novel".

He goes on to give a summary of *The Enchanter*, which fortunately
had not been destroyed as he thought. If we put this alongside VN's
persistent interest in sexuality of all kinds throughout his work
(adultery, homosexuality, incest - to name but the more popular)
it is quite obvious that these qualify as 'recurrent topics' in
his work.

Come on now, he's pulling our leg! There's no reason why a
novelist shouldn't write about these matters - but in the
intellectual climate of 1956 some form of sophistical 'excuse'
was required.

Roy Johnson