Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022076, Tue, 11 Oct 2011 13:14:40 -0300

Hazel Shade-Lolita and Dorothy Parker
The cynical trait lurking behind the creation of sweet John Shade seems to have impressed me more than it seems to have struck Pale Fire's throng of admirers.
Today I found an echo for it, as improbable as it seems to be. It derives from cruelly finnicky Dorothy Parker's writings..I glimpsed Hazel Shade in Lolita! ("The Portable Dorothy Parker," 1944. Reproduced in part by Penguin Modern Classics, in 2011)

Although I set J.Shade's lines close to D.Parker's, it's not because there's a possible literary match between them. Not even in spirit! A match, if there is one, would lie in V.Nabokov's and D. Parker's shared cruelty to their characters, particularly the smug relationship bt parents and their children and self-absorbingly detailed conversations.

Quotes from D.Parker's short-story Lolita and John Shade's poem Pale Fire

p.72 Lolita's mother "was always her own sparkling self with her daughter, but her friends, mothers of born belles, tried to imagine themselves in her place and their hearts ached for her..".
lines 312/314 "My gentle girl appeared as Mother Time,/.../And like a fool I sobbed in the men's room."
p.72 "...Gallant in their own way, they found cases to relate to her, cases of girls who went through periods of being plain and then turned suddenly into dazzling beauties; some of the more scholarly brought up references to the story of the ugly duckling"
lines 320-321: "Alas, the dingy cygnet never turned/ Into a wood duck. And again your voice:..."

p.73 "There were no beaux draped along the railing of the Ewing porch in the evening: no young male voices asked for Lolita over the telephone."
lines 330-337 "The telephone that rang before a ball/.../For her would never ring;.../.../...she'd never go,/A dream of gauze and jasmine, to that dance....

There's a faint word used by Shade in relation to the hereafter* that has gained a special twist in Dorothy Parker's world. In it, Lolita's mother, who saw her ungainly daughter get married after all - and to a successful, rich and charming newyorker (a certain John Marble)! - predicted a gloomy future for her daughter. She insistently told her friends that Lolita should go ahead and be happy, for as long as she possibly could, because - " 'Well, you know. A man like John Marble married to a girl like Lolita! But she knows she can always come here. This house is her home. She can always come back to her mother'." And now comes her shattering last line:
"For Mrs Ewing was not a woman who easily abandoned hope."

*- lines 833/34 "I have returned convinced that I can grope/My way to some - to some - "Yes, dear?" Faint hope." (end of Canto III)

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/