Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025642, Sun, 24 Aug 2014 22:15:34 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] Two Johns Ray
Carolyn Kunin:… American Beautywise? - there's the famous rose and a less
famous movie ... Jansy Mello: The pretty friend of the middle-aged
character’s daughter in “American Beauty” (the one covered by roses) is
Angela Hayes. But the movie came out almost thirty years after “Lolita” and
the surname Hayes must be just a coincidence.

(Off-List): “A coincidence? The director says "think Nabokov"…the plot is a
working over of "The Eye" with “Lolita” mixed in. And a really wonderful

Jansy Mello: I’ll try googling it to get more info…
Here we are: Wikipedia (Lolita): "In the 1999 film American Beauty, the name
of protagonist Lester Burnham—a middle-age man with a crush on his
daughter's best friend—is an anagram of "Humbert learns". The girl's surname
is Hays, which recalls Haze. Tracy Lemaster sees many parallels between the
two stories including their references to rose petals and sports, arguing
that Beauty's cheerleading scene is directly derived from the tennis scene
in Lolita.[95]" [ Cf. Tracy Lemaster, "The Nymphet as Consequence in
Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and Sam Mendes's American Beauty", Trans:
Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16 (May 2006). Retrieved 6
February 2011.]

Another indication: Nabokov and American Beauty, May 27,2005

"I came across this very interesting discovery on the internet. Lester
Burnham, the name of the Kevin Spacey character in the film American Beauty
is actually, in a delightful reference which is in fact deliberate, an
anagram of "Humbert learns". And indeed, judging by the film, Humbert has
learned the Nabokov lesson pretty well! Furthermore, the name of the nymphet
in the film (although, technically she is much too old), Angela Hayes, is
homophonous with Dolores Haze, Lolita's real name or as Nabokov put it, the
name "on the dotted line". Screenwriter Alan Ball confessed to this; adding
that he was inspired by some real life event very similar to the one
described in the novel, which actually happened somewhere in America.

Now that I think about the film once again, many other details emerge. The
theme of the film, compressed in its tagline--"look closer" is indeed very
Nabokovian. Look closer and you will find patterns everywhere and this is
what discovering "beauty" is.[…] And after finishing Speak, Memory my
Nabokovophilia index these days is reaching previously unscaled heights."


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