Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022078, Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:16:14 -0400

Re: Hazel Shade-Lolita and Dorothy Parker

Jansy: Hold on a minute. Nabokov had already written and submitted the ms. of Lolita to Katherine White of the New Yorker before that magazine ever published Dorothy Parker's short story of the same name. Ergo neither Nabokov nor Parker could have known of each other's work. Pure coincidence, no? Fran

Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 13:14:40 -0300
From: jansy@AETERN.US
Subject: [NABOKV-L] 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
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

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)

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