NABOKV-L post 0023847, Fri, 29 Mar 2013 12:31:49 -0700

Subject
Re: THOUGHTS re: Humbert's reading
Date
Body
Mike M writes:

In Lolita, H.H. tells us some of the contents of the prison library. For
starters the Bible, and a complete Dickens. In the venerable BBC radio program
Desert Island Discs, guests were asked to name seven (I think) pieces of music
they'd take; the literature on the island was the Bible and Shakespeare. I
wonder why VN excluded Shakespeare.


The answer presumably is that it was stolen.
Carolyn



________________________________
From: Nabokv-L <nabokv-l@UTK.EDU>
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Sent: Fri, March 29, 2013 11:33:51 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] THOUGHTS re: Humbert's reading

Mike M writes:

In Lolita, H.H. tells us some of the contents of the prison library. For
starters the Bible, and a complete Dickens. In the venerable BBC radio program
Desert Island Discs, guests were asked to name seven (I think) pieces of music
they'd take; the literature on the island was the Bible and Shakespeare. I
wonder why VN excluded Shakespeare.

The Children's Encyclopedia gratified Humbert's specialist interest, and then
there's Agatha Christie's 'A Murder is Announced'. Published in 1950, the title
adumbrates subsequent events in 'Lolita', but may also be a hint at another
Christie piece, her play 'The Mousetrap', which opened in 1952, and which owes
its title to the play-within-a-play in Hamlet. This is relevant when we see what
Nabokov follows up with:

"but they also have such coruscating trifles as 'A vagabond in Italy' by Percy
Elphinstone, author of 'Venice Revisited', Boston, 1868, and a comparatively
recent (1946) Who's Who in the Limelight--actors, producers, playwrights, and
shots of static scenes. In looking through the latter volume, I was treated last
night to one of those dazzling coincidences that logicians loathe and poets
love. I transcribe most of the page: ....."

Nabokov seems occasionally to carry over features and/or characters and their
names from one novel to another. Percy de Prey in Ada is a lampoon version of
Edward de Vere. Robin Fox suggested that the name was inspired by Sir Percy
Blakeney, aka the Scarlet Pimpernel, whom they seek here and there.
Interestingly the ghost in Hamlet is 'hic et ubique', here and everywhere, when
he shifts his ground beneath the stage. Percy in Lolita is an earlier version of
his Vere counterpart in Ada; Elphinstone is a proxy for Hamlet's Elsinore; Vere
was in Venice for many months in 1576 (why 'Venice REvisited'? Visited once in
life, once in works of the imagination?); Vere's impoverishment gained pace as a
result of his extravagance on his European tour (A Vagabond in Italy).
Unattached actors were considered vagabonds in those times, which leads to the
next volume, 'Who's Who in the Limelight'. When Vere was alluded to in the
literature of his day, play was sometimes made on the fact that his name
sounded like the French for green, vert -- hence Lime [green] light. At least
according to Oxfordians, Vere was actor & producer & playwright, as in the Who's
Who. "Shots of static scenes" -- static may also refer to electricity (remember
'Pale Fire': "Science tells us, by the way, that the Earth would not merely fall
apart, but vanish like a ghost, if Electricity were suddenly removed from the
world").

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