PS toIf god doesn't exist then everything is permitted”- part four, book eleven, chapter four. Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov.

It seems to me that Smurov's  brand of vigilant solipsism and his delusional idealism, that leads him to imagine that he can act with impunity, is a distorted play with Dostoevsky's sentence. Variants of such fantasies seem to open space to a lot of literary works of modern fiction as if everything were permitted to these writers...

Jansy Mello: I was unable to use formatting devices in my last message. Sorry. Also, in a previous posting, I used the word “foreshadow” incorrectly (unless I should sustain that VN’s various writings constitute one single gigantic novel, right?). However, in the case of “The Eye,” lots of important ideas that VN developed or reworked in some of his other works were introduced there - as if they were always present in his exploring mind. 

I also forgot to explain that I initially considered the “freedom” Smurov acquired after his “death” as bearing a relation to Dostoevsky’s lines because I compared his suicide (probably incorrectly, but it gave me the push) to “God’s death.” 

When I mentioned the passage of Smurov’s fantasies into acts - and his justifications about them in writing as a continuation of these acts - in connection to a few modern authors’ views about the social effects or consequences of their texts, I was only considering something along the line of VN’s satire of Dostoevsky in Despair, and its indication of Oscar Wilde’s arguments ( in “Pen, Pencil and Poison,” as argued by Alexander Dolinin in The Caning of Modernist Profaners: Parody in Despair, in "Zembla": "Despair can be read as a double-edged lampoon aimed simultaneously at both waves of dostoevshchina. First, Hermann's initial idea of committing a perfect murder that would be aesthetically comparable with the greatest artistic creations parodies the Symbolist philosophy of zhiznetvorchestvo(life-creation) and decadent writings based on the concept of the artist as a Nietzschean superman standing beyond good and evil and projecting his creative dreams onto malleable reality. [ See note 24 for the full commentary].

In my opinion neither VN’s reiteration of an absence of social content or of didactic messages in his novels (and forewords, too?), nor the construction of a protective bubble-world of great literary fiction, cannot deny their actual social relevance and impact once the writings are set on paper. The rendering of a special “immunity for sexual fantasies as such, as those are found in “The Enchanter” and in “Lolita” (I have in mind the couch/apple scene in the latter, or “Arthur’s” fumbling with his future step-daughter by a window, in the first) with their dangerous passage to the act (in psychoanalytic terminology) isn’t something that VN ignored: in “The Enchanter” an old lady, who was travelling in the same train-compartment with “Arthur” and his little girl, sensed there was something so foul in the atmosphere that it forced her to abandon her seat; in Quilty’s first dialogue with Humbert something of a similar nature can be clearly perceived (although, objectively, I don’t think that the old lady nor Quilty, at that point, had any reason to suspect that anything of the kind was about to take place. The Author knew, of course and, unlike Humbert’s successes, in “The Enchanter” the crazed perpretator was punished almost at once).


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