Peeping at Nabokov List discussions I cannot help proposing a remark in my amateur English.
    If one takes for granted that art is"about",
    that analysis - although  inevitable, perhaps,  - helps to comprehend art better,
    that those, who feel "Lolita" to be a story of love, can repentantly (Webster bless me...) change their opinion,
    than would you resist me proposing an alternative formulation:
   "Lolita" is about pedophilia as a model of unrequited love?
    And thus is a book evolving a maybe most profundic Nabokov's theme: there are no earthly ways for a person to materialize his deepest ideas of happiness - but for creative art.
    Happiness is something that can be felt but can't be built.
    In my opinion, he faced the theme in "Mashen'ka" without caution (=writer's mastery), giving Ganin no support in the decision to resign materializing his dream. There are no moral obstacles to meet happiness: Ganin doesn't have to kill like Hermann, or defile like Humbert etc.  - artistic austerity which Nabokov never repeated. Among his cast there are those who  are happy; but those who try to become happy are severely punished.
   By making them immoral.
----- -----
: Donald Barton Johnson <>
: 10 1998 . 3:39
: Re: Lolita and pedophilia (fwd)

>EDITOR's NOTE. During September and October there has been a thread on "VN
>and Sentiment" which included many substantial and thought-provoking
>postings -- among them Galya Korovina's 28 September essay and Tom Bolt
>response. Bolt and others took issue with the assertion that LOLITA was
>not about pedophilia but tragic passion. Below Brian Boyd adds his
>From: Brian Boyd <>
>Dear List:
>I read Galya Korovina's comments about _Lolita_ only after reading about
>Tom Bolt's response, and when I read her comments themselveswhich I
>thought full of interest ("eerie domesticity" and the like)felt I had to
>resist her claim that _Lolita_ is "about passionate love doomed to be
>unrequited, and not about pedophilia," but saw no point in doing so until
>I knew what the state of the discussion was. For some reason Tom Bolt's
>comment did not reach me through the list, and has only just been resent
>by our obliging listmaster.  Tom Bolt responds so superbly, with such
>economy and psychological and moral sensitivity, that I hesitate to add
>anything. But since I had jotted down a response, here it is, clunky
>tabulation rather than elegant analysis.
> Aristotle stressed plot as primary in storytelling, and while we might not agree that it's quite as dominant as he does, it still matters even in the most sophisticated fiction. If _Lolita_ is about not pedophilia but unrequited love, why does HH timidly pursue young girls, bought or browsed amongst, in Europe; pursue Ginny McCoo to Ramsdale; entrap Lolita at the Enchanted Hunters with the intention of coupling with her while she is unconscious; have her regularly sit in the car and "caress" him while he admires schoolgirls filing by at school bus time, and grumble about her "childish lack of sympathy for other people's whims"; show a keen interest in "consolation prize nymphets" around Lolita; daydream about having a daughter by Lolita who can herself become a Lolita, and then of having a daughter by her? Why does VN include such details if he wants to define HH's feelings as love but not pedophilia?
> True, after the epiphany above the mountain valley and his
>abandoning his pursuit of the unknown abductor, HH no longer chases other
>"nymphets," but settles down with the prophylactic Rita, and when he meets
>Lolita again he loves her in even in her post-nymphancy. By this stage he
>has indeed outgrown his pedophilia. On the other hand, he continues to
>exploit others to serve his own ends: his attitude of contempt toward Rita
>while feigning attachment is much the same as toward Valeria--except that
>Humbert now feels less trapped and more circumspect, and hence can be less
>brutal--or toward Charlotte; his determination to kill Lolita's "abductor"
>as soon as he discovers his identity never wavers, and is pointedly linked
>by Nabokov with HH's past unwavering determination to possess Lolita, even
>at the cost of killing the child she still is. Once Lolita escapes,
>Humbert does change in some respects, both toward Lolita and toward
>pedophilia, although he also remains in many other respects horribly the
>same. But while he has her in his possession, he is still at least as much
>pedophiliac as "lover."
> I agree with Galya Diment, too, that Galya Korovina's comment
>falls into the same trap as the Stephen Schiff-Adrian Lyne movie: as I
>said to Stephen Schiff when I saw the movie for the first time at Cornell,
>the movie seems like Humbert's _Lolita_, not Nabokov's. I could have
>added, after my question above, "Why does VN include such details?": "Why
>does the new movie avoid them, or anything like them?"
> Thanks to Galya K especially for eliciting Tom B's resplendent
>Brian Boyd
>English Department
>University of Auckland
>Auckland, New Zealand
>FAX + 64 9 373 7429