Monday, March 16, 2009

Lolita Links

John Derbyshire, "February Fooled the Forsythia"
"I found myself in a new and very strange imaginative space, like none I had ever visited before, and filled with such wonders and delights that if I experienced any disappointment at not having been titillated, that disappointment was swamped by sheer esthetic pleasure, so much so that I retained no memory of it."

Christopher Hitchens, "Hurricane Lolita"

"But there are other ways in which Lolita is, to annex Nabokov's word, "telescopic." Looking back on it, he cited a critic who "suggested that Lolita was the record of my love affair with the romantic novel," and continued, "The substitution 'English language' for 'romantic novel' would make this elegant formula more correct." That's profoundly true, and constitutes the most strenuous test of the romantic idea that worshipful time will forgive all those who love, and who live by, language."

Stephen Metcalf, "The Disgusting Brilliance of Lolita"

"Its real genius is too easily missed. It lies in what Nabokov called the "nerves of the novel," the "secret points, the subliminal coordinates by means of which the book is plotted." In these, Nabokov has hinted at the life that exceeds the perimeter of Humbert's encompassing obsession—at the inner lives of those others whom he so casually dismisses or destroys. It cost Nabokov, by his own admission, "a month of work" to write one sentence in which Humbert gets his hair cut by a barber who has never stopped mourning his dead son—a fact that scarcely dents Humbert's exquisite consciousness. And one last detail, hidden by Nabokov in the book's sham preface: Mrs. Richard F. Schiller, previously Miss Dolores Haze, aka Lolita, died on Christmas day 1952, giving birth to a stillborn baby girl."

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