NABOKV-L post 0024058, Thu, 25 Apr 2013 13:56:50 -0700

Re: VNBIB: RE: Richardson & VN
Dear Matt,

I had never heard of this perverse reaction of women readers - just the opposite
of what one would expect. Lovelace is a very intellectual young man, but so
amoral that I am really rawther surprised. I did know of the happy ending demand
- well, the Soviets tacked a happy ending onto Swan Lake, didn't they? The human
condition I suspect.

Now Humbert - I am truly shocked at that!


From: "Roth, Matthew" <mroth@MESSIAH.EDU>
Sent: Thu, April 25, 2013 10:11:23 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] VNBIB: RE: Richardson & VN

Readers with an interest in both VN and Richardson’s Clarissa will enjoy Lisa
Zunshine’s 2006 book entitled Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel.
In successive chapters, Zunshine (author of Nabokov at the Limits, 1999)
considers Clarissa and Lolita, focusing in particular on how readers interact
with Lovelace and Humbert. Here is a taste:

“To [Richardson’s] surprise and disappointment, eighteenth century audiences
(particularly the novel’s target audience, women) bought Lovelace’s version of
reality. They fell in love with the rake and started demanding of the author
that he end the story with a happy marriage between the angelic Clarissa and the
man whom Richardson saw as a consummate stalker and rapist” (101).

“An eerily similar fate . . . awaited Nabokov’s Lolita, another novel that
challenged its readers’ metarepresentational capacity with its figure of the
unreliable narrator. . . . Many readers swallowed Humbert Humbert’s ‘poor truth’
hook, line, and sinker” (101).

Matt Roth

From:Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of A.
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:53 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] query re VN, SR & 3 virginals

Dear Carolyn,

Call me Abdel.
Indeed, I read Pamela while a student and was one of the very few who enjoyed it
–for the wrong reasons perhaps.

Pornographic? Hardly in my recollection, although Richardson was accused of
licentiousness. Perhaps you’re thinking of Fielding’s parody Shamela?
The church in VN’s simile refers, of course, to the wedding, the climax of many
popular epistolary novels, as in Pamela’s case; and in Aphra Behn’s earlier one,
the second part of Love-letters of a Noble Man to his Sister (1685) ends with
Silvia heading for a village church.* However, I believe the church also stands
for death, as in the case of your beloved Clarissa,** which ends tragically,
which also holds for Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons and Goethe’s The Sorrows of
Young Werther –to name only the most famous ones.
In his commentary to Pushkin’s EO, VN is not entirely dismissive of Richardson’s
style –or lack thereof.

A. Bouazza
* The marriage doesn’t actually take place, but no matter, the reader learns
this in Part 3 if s/he has the stamina to follow Behn’s intricate plots.
** I envy your 1st edition, and the music sheet is certainly a nice touch that
didn’t fail to pluck at the strings of my musical mind.
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