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From:
Don Stanley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vladimir Nabokov Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 17:20:48 +0000
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On Teaching Lolita

Used to receive complaints, often from abused women. Been a decade easy since the last objection. What that says about how we live now I donít know.

Not a News Flash that itís a tricky novel to pin down morally. Below is a fragment from the early champion Dorothy Parker. Seems all wrong to me, but Parker was nobodyís fool, so goes to show. 

"She is a dreadful little creature, selfish, hard, vulgar, and foul-tempered.  He knows that he knows all of what she is.  That the knowledge cannot turn away his obsession with her is his agony.Ē 

don
________________________________________
From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of frances assa [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2018 1:12 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: teaching Lolita

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Poster:       frances assa <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:      Re: teaching Lolita
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Re Joseph Aisenberg's comments: Well said!

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________________________________
From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of jose=
ph Aisenberg <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, June 3, 2018 12:21:21 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] teaching Lolita

I agree with much of this. I've heard numerous people on the BBC and on NPR=
 talk about how when the book is taught it should be emphasized that the st=
ory is about a man who rapes a little girl, as if it were necessary always =
to morally underpin everything so that one can take a socially ameliorating=
 from lesson from it; as if John Ray Jr.'s introduction hadn't parodied thi=
s shallow view to the point of utter absurdity. The author Martin Amis has =
called the book and Nabokov's ouevre in general that dread academic term "p=
roblematic." The problem is that the arts are still largely considered a pl=
atform for healthy and helpful "messages". For these kinds of readers or fi=
lm viewers or conossieurs of paintings everything is more or less propagand=
a. Therefore one might as well plump for sloganeering and positive portraya=
ls of "the other", the right socially oppressed "other" that is--and anythi=
ng else be damned; even the ancient past must yet again be re-evaluated and=
 found incorrect. I've actually heard academics suggest with moral disdain =
that Plato victimized his young male students!  It's the new form of prissy=
 bourgeois idealism. It's like the old style religious hypocrisy which info=
rmed the era of the Hollywood Production Code after 1932. You could not hav=
e a married couple cheat on each other or divorce; a criminal was not allow=
ed to go unpunished as this would promote ungodly, extra-legal behavior on =
the part of the lower orders. Anything real, raw, complicated, human, true,=
 ambiguous, had to be eradicated and papered over with fake solutions which=
 squared everything in socially acceptable ways. Pedophilia has become radi=
oactive in our times, considered worse than murder; social convention deman=
ds the children be viewed as spiritually destroyed victims who may have cau=
ght the pedophilia bug themselves in some cases. It has been officially dec=
reed that there can be no genuine feelings between child and adult. Any sor=
t of romance between them is seen as an aspect of the pedophile's manipulat=
ive "grooming," which merely serves to victimize the prey over again by tel=
ling them that whatever they may feel, whatever they've been told is totall=
y untrue and that now they are damaged goods. It's disgusting. Nabokov's ar=
t doesn't descend to such inhumane generalizations; forces the reader to sp=
lit those hairs, look beyond blame, beyond right and wrong to the strangene=
ss of what it means to be a thinking, feeling person in a world we don't re=
ally understand, where we are plagued by emotions and needs which don't alw=
ays fit the easy categorization of middle class notions of normality. Socie=
ty insists that everything really is simple, that all behavior does fit int=
o those clear cut categories. If it's deemed illegal for an adult to have s=
exual congress with a person under eighteen years of age, it's rape. The in=
dividual circumstances don't matter; whatever the victim may have wanted is=
 ipso facto a delusion because they're not the powerful partner, the adult.=
 Yet our experience as youngsters tells us this isn't always the case, that=
 we may actually have wanted what we weren't supposed to want. Lolita keeps=
 that idea in focus, reminds us of how wondrous and frightening the nature =
of what our private freedoms and our animal desires make possible, which go=
 so far beyond the rules handed down to us by hypocrites that most people s=
imply refuse to acknowledge the simple facts. Lolita is a great and powerfu=
l work of art not simply because of its style but because it gives an elabo=
rate evocation of the contradictory states of human consciousness, played o=
ut partly as an ornate game satirizing romanticist cliches and partly as a =
passionate tragedy about how easy it is for almost any of us to be outfoxed=
 by our own self serving myopia when we want something; how thin the line b=
etween tenderness and destructive obsession turns out to be when you're wal=
king it. People want to believe that "we" are absolutely nothing like those=
 we demonize; Lolita shows us that because these demons also turn out to be=
 mere mortals this kind of simple mindedness is just a hackneyed lie we tel=
l ourselves to make our own little cruelties go down smoothly to ourselves.

The fact some will think the above is a justification for pedophilia only m=
akes my point, I think


On Saturday, June 2, 2018 10:50 AM, mscoutur <[log in to unmask]> w=
rote:


Dear Nabokovians,

Has the debate around reading, teaching or writing about Lolita changed
that much since the novel first came out more than sixty years ago? I
wonder. There are still those who, for ethical reasons, keep arguing
that the novel can only have a bad influence on society, on the students
invited to read it especially, and should therefore be put only with
caution on the academic syllabus or kept out of it completely. With the
present post-Weinstein movements, Lolita is often, too often, considered
as a dirty book. I suspect that if a writer like Borges=92 Pierre M=E9nard
were to try and publish it as a first edition today, he would be unable
to find a publisher for it, even in France. On the other hand, there are
those, most of us, who keep praising the novel for its sublime poetic
dimension and insist that art transcends ethics.

Though, as Anne Dwyer convincingly explains, teaching the novel may be
more difficult than it was forty years ago, I must point out that I was
personally forbidden, as early as 1976, to teach Lolita at the junior
level at the Sorbonne. I taught Lolita at the undergraduate level only
at San Diego State in the eighties, and, despite all the precautions I
took, I encountered some difficulties, but they were minor, probably
because I was French and only a visitor on the campus. In France, I
taught the book only at the graduate level, feeling on safer grounds
with more mature and better educated students.

Brian Boyd says he was disappointed by Anne Dwyer=92s article, but I have
a feeling that his views are not so different from hers. Both agree that
Humbert is a perverse, =93a cruel wretch=94, and Lolita his victim; that
Nabokov shouldn=92t be confused with his protagonist and never committed
the evil deeds he describes in his novel; that art transcends ethics
(though they refrain from openly saying so). Yet I tend to have some
reservation about his following statement: =93One of the most important
things in human life is freedom, including freedom from manipulation,
from unfair and false persuasion and pressure, and from oppression.
Humbert tries to manipulate and pressure us as he has manipulated
Lolita. We need to learn to resist. Lolita is the supreme exercise in
literature of the challenge of reading against the character narrating.=94
I agree with him that, when teaching, one should remind the students
that Humbert=92s behavior in the real world is morally and legally
unacceptable, but does it mean that one should give a clinical reading
of the novel? He might almost give the impression of suggesting that
when he calls the therapists to the rescue: =93one of the strongest claims
on behalf of Lolita, surely, is that sex abuse therapists find it so
valuable, so insightful, so genuinely therapeutic, such a clear way of
showing the psychology of an abuser. See the attached article by Lucia
Williams, and note her references to the work of Sokhna Fall.=94

Following his advice, I read Williams=92 interesting article and came
across the following passage: =93why is it again that we cannot use the
term love when child sexual abuse is concerned? It is not excessive
morality as pedophiles criticize, but what is at stake is the inequality
of power: an adult who is in a relationship of responsibility or trust
(=85) ultimately takes advantage of a child who is still developing =96
solely to gratify or satisfy the adult=92s needs.=94 What other terms,
except perversion or sexual greed, can be used to label Humbert=92s
passion for Lolita? I agree, of course, with her moral and legal
approach to this difficult problem. Years ago, I ran a creative writing
workshop in Grasse prison; the only prisoners who agreed to participate
were sexual offenders, and more specifically =93pointeurs=94, pedophiles. I
never tried to make them write about their personal experience, but many
of them felt the urge to do it and often insisted that they truly loved
the girls they had intercourse with, or that they did it with their full
consent, which wasn=92t always the case, I am sure. Each time, I used the
same arguments as William does in her article to tell them that it was
ethically and legally wrong to have sexual intercourse with children and
young teenagers but I usually failed to convince them.

Yet, Humbert did love Lolita. Nabokov does his best to underline that,
especially in the Coalmont chapter. As Samuel Johnson said in his
dictionary, the novel as a literary genre is =93a small tale, generally of
love.=94 Modern novelists since Guilleragues, Defoe and Richardson have
endeavored to present a wide spectrum of the different brands and shades
of love and of a large range of perversions that often accompany them;
and Nabokov contributed to this age-old enterprise perhaps more than any
other novelist, as I have tried to show both in my Lacanian study,
Nabokov ou la cruaut=E9 du d=E9sir (Champ Vallon, 2004), and in my essay on
the poetic dimension of desire in his novels, Nabokov=92s Eros or the
Poetics of Desire (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014), a totally different book.

Lolita isn=92t an autobiography but a work of fiction =96 even if the highl=
y
unreliable and somewhat unbalanced narrator of my latest novel, Le Rapt
de Lolita (Orizons, 2018), argues that it is the autobiography of a
close friend of his in Paris and endeavors to show that Nabokov stole
his manuscript. What I mean here (not in my novel) is that the criteria
to judge Humbert and the book itself can=92t be only those I used with the
=93pointeurs=94, the participants in my creative writing workshop. Lolita i=
s
a moving tragedy, not only for Humbert who is tortured by his perverse
sexual desire for young girls and eventually grows to conceive genuine
love for Lolita, but also to some extent for Nabokov himself whose
figure remains omnipresent in the book. He is one of the discursive
actants of the novel, not only through John Ray=92s foreword and his
afterword =96 genuine =93thresholds=94 of Humbert=92s confession which are =
now
part of the novel itself. One must bear in mind that Nabokov wrote the
article published in the Anchor Review, =93On a Book Entitled Lolita=94, at
a time when the novel still remained unpublished in the States, and only
months after it was actually banned in France. Later, he insisted that
it be inserted in the subsequent editions of his novel and for obvious
reasons: he refused to be confused with his perverse protagonist and
narrator, and wished to proclaim his eminent esthetic ambitions. Reading
Lolita without taking into account Humbert=92s countless signs of bad
faith in the body of the novel, along with the author=92s repeated
attempts, inside the text or at its outskirts, to affirm his moral
values and prompt us to read the novel in consequence, amounts in my
opinion to misreading it. That=92s how the poetic web of sense is woven in
this marvelous book. This has nothing to do with intentional fallacy. I
would be surrendering to this fallacy if I were to judge the novel only
with the criteria underlined by Nabokov in the afterword and his many
subsequent statements.

One must study the novel in all its complexity and ambiguity: as the
confession of a tormented and cruel pedophile who feels at once guilty
for what he has done but still cherishes the experience as his poetic
text testifies, and who not only abused a little girl, but believes or
wants to believe (not totally with bad faith) that she seduced him,
children being capable of that (not that we should forgive their
abusers, I repeat); as a genuine love story on his part; as a tragedy of
desire, of the cruelty of desire; as a textbook study of pedophilia (why
not?); as a poetic work aiming to show that art may transcend ethics,
even though it has a certain degree of social responsibility, etc. etc.
Only an empathic cum critical approach to the novel can begin to give us
access to its incredible depth. Limiting oneself to one single of these
(and other) options amounts to showing a lack of respect for Nabokov=92s
immense achievement. That=92s why, of course, teaching the novel
constitutes such a tremendous challenge!

Gilles Deleuze once wrote that =93one can=92t say a thing and its meaning a=
t
the same time.=94 This remains true even of such a tyrannical author as
Vladimir Nabokov.

Maurice Couturier
33.0493602878

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<body>
<div dir=3D"auto" style=3D"direction:ltr; margin:0; padding:0; font-family:s=
ans-serif; font-size:11pt; color:black">
Re Joseph Aisenberg's comments: Well said!<br>
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"auto" style=3D"direction:ltr; margin:0; padding:0; font-family:s=
ans-serif; font-size:11pt; color:black">
<div dir=3D"auto" style=3D"direction:ltr; margin:0; padding:0; font-family:s=
ans-serif; font-size:11pt; color:black">
Get <a href=3D"https://aka.ms/ghei36">Outlook for Android</a></div>
<br>
</div>
<hr tabindex=3D"-1" style=3D"display:inline-block; width:98%">
<div id=3D"divRplyFwdMsg" dir=3D"ltr"><font face=3D"Calibri, sans-serif" col=
or=3D"#000000" style=3D"font-size:11pt"><b>From:</b> Vladimir Nabokov Forum =
&lt;[log in to unmask]&gt; on behalf of joseph Aisenberg &lt;vanveen=
[log in to unmask]&gt;<br>
<b>Sent:</b> Sunday, June 3, 2018 12:21:21 AM<br>
<b>To:</b> [log in to unmask]<br>
<b>Subject:</b> Re: [NABOKV-L] teaching Lolita</font>
<div>&nbsp;</div>
</div>
<div>
<div style=3D"color:#000; background-color:#fff; font-family:Helvetica Neue,=
Helvetica,Arial,Lucida Grande,sans-serif; font-size:13px">
<div id=3D"yui_3_16_0_1_1527825189260_22889" dir=3D"ltr"><span id=3D"yui_3_1=
6_0_1_1527825189260_22905">I agree with much of this. I've heard numerous pe=
ople on the BBC and on NPR talk about how when the book is taught it should =
be emphasized that the story is about
 a man who rapes a little girl, as if it were necessary always to morally un=
derpin everything so that one can take a socially ameliorating from lesson f=
rom it; as if John Ray Jr.'s introduction hadn't parodied this shallow view =
to the point of utter absurdity.
 The author Martin Amis has called the book and Nabokov's ouevre in general =
that dread academic term &quot;problematic.&quot; The problem is that the ar=
ts are still largely considered a platform for healthy and helpful &quot;mes=
sages&quot;. For these kinds of readers or film viewers
 or conossieurs of paintings everything is more or less propaganda. Therefor=
e one might as well plump for sloganeering and positive portrayals of &quot;=
the other&quot;, the right socially oppressed &quot;other&quot; that is--and=
 anything else be damned; even the ancient past must
 yet again be re-evaluated and found incorrect. I've actually heard academic=
s suggest with moral disdain that Plato victimized his young male students!&=
nbsp; It's the new form of prissy bourgeois idealism. It's like the old styl=
e religious hypocrisy which informed
 the era of the Hollywood Production Code after 1932. You could not have a m=
arried couple cheat on each other or divorce; a criminal was not allowed to =
go unpunished as this would promote ungodly, extra-legal behavior on the par=
t of the lower orders. Anything
 real, raw, complicated, human, true, ambiguous, had to be eradicated and pa=
pered over with fake solutions which squared everything in socially acceptab=
le ways. Pedophilia has become radioactive in our times, considered worse th=
an murder; social convention
 demands the children be viewed as spiritually destroyed victims who may hav=
e caught the pedophilia bug themselves in some cases. It has been officially=
 decreed that there can be no genuine feelings between child and adult. Any =
sort of romance between them
 is seen as an aspect of the pedophile's manipulative &quot;grooming,&quot; =
which merely serves to victimize the prey over again by telling them that wh=
atever they may feel, whatever they've been told is totally untrue and that =
now they are damaged goods. It's disgusting.
 Nabokov's art doesn't descend to such inhumane generalizations; forces the =
reader to split those hairs, look beyond blame, beyond right and wrong to th=
e strangeness of what it means to be a thinking, feeling person in a world w=
e don't really understand, where
 we are plagued by emotions and needs which don't always fit the easy catego=
rization of middle class notions of normality. Society insists that everythi=
ng really is simple, that all behavior does fit into those clear cut categor=
ies. If it's deemed illegal for
 an adult to have sexual congress with a person under eighteen years of age,=
 it's rape. The individual circumstances don't matter; whatever the victim m=
ay have wanted is ipso facto a delusion because they're not the powerful par=
tner, the adult. Yet our experience
 as youngsters tells us this isn't always the case, that we may actually hav=
e wanted what we weren't supposed to want. Lolita keeps that idea in focus, =
reminds us of how wondrous and frightening the nature of what our private fr=
eedoms and our animal desires
 make possible, which go so far beyond the rules handed down to us by hypocr=
ites that most people simply refuse to acknowledge the simple facts. Lolita =
is a great and powerful work of art not simply because of its style but beca=
use it gives an elaborate evocation
 of the contradictory states of human consciousness, played out partly as an=
 ornate game satirizing romanticist cliches and partly as a passionate trage=
dy about how easy it is for almost any of us to be outfoxed by our own self =
serving myopia when we want something;
 how thin the line between tenderness and destructive obsession turns out to=
 be when you're walking it. People want to believe that &quot;we&quot; are a=
bsolutely nothing like those we demonize; Lolita shows us that because these=
 demons also turn out to be mere mortals
 this kind of simple mindedness is just a hackneyed lie we tell ourselves to=
 make our own little cruelties go down smoothly to ourselves.</span></div>
<div dir=3D"ltr" id=3D"yui_3_16_0_1_1527825189260_30854"><span id=3D"yui_3_1=
6_0_1_1527825189260_22905"><br>
</span></div>
<div dir=3D"ltr" id=3D"yui_3_16_0_1_1527825189260_30952"><span id=3D"yui_3_1=
6_0_1_1527825189260_22905">The fact some will think the above is a justifica=
tion for pedophilia only makes my point, I think&nbsp;
</span></div>
<div class=3D"qtdSeparateBR"><br>
<br>
</div>
<div class=3D"yahoo_quoted" style=3D"display:block">
<div style=3D"font-family:Helvetica Neue,Helvetica,Arial,Lucida Grande,sans-=
serif; font-size:13px">
<div style=3D"font-family:HelveticaNeue,Helvetica Neue,Helvetica,Arial,Lucid=
a Grande,sans-serif; font-size:16px">
<div dir=3D"ltr"><font size=3D"2" face=3D"Arial">On Saturday, June 2, 2018 1=
0:50 AM, mscoutur &lt;[log in to unmask]&gt; wrote:<br>
</font></div>
<br>
<br>
<div class=3D"y_msg_container">
<div dir=3D"ltr">Dear Nabokovians,<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Has the debate around reading, teaching or writing about Lo=
lita changed
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">that much since the novel first came out more than sixty ye=
ars ago? I
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">wonder. There are still those who, for ethical reasons, kee=
p arguing
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">that the novel can only have a bad influence on society, on=
 the students
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">invited to read it especially, and should therefore be put =
only with
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">caution on the academic syllabus or kept out of it complete=
ly. With the
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">present post-Weinstein movements, Lolita is often, too ofte=
n, considered
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">as a dirty book. I suspect that if a writer like Borges=C2=92=
 Pierre M=C3=A9nard
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">were to try and publish it as a first edition today, he wou=
ld be unable
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">to find a publisher for it, even in France. On the other ha=
nd, there are
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">those, most of us, who keep praising the novel for its subl=
ime poetic
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">dimension and insist that art transcends ethics.<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Though, as Anne Dwyer convincingly explains, teaching the n=
ovel may be
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">more difficult than it was forty years ago, I must point ou=
t that I was
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">personally forbidden, as early as 1976, to teach Lolita at =
the junior
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">level at the Sorbonne. I taught Lolita at the undergraduate=
 level only
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">at San Diego State in the eighties, and, despite all the pr=
ecautions I
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">took, I encountered some difficulties, but they were minor,=
 probably
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">because I was French and only a visitor on the campus. In F=
rance, I
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">taught the book only at the graduate level, feeling on safe=
r grounds
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">with more mature and better educated students.<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Brian Boyd says he was disappointed by Anne Dwyer=C2=92s ar=
ticle, but I have
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">a feeling that his views are not so different from hers. Bo=
th agree that
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Humbert is a perverse, =C2=93a cruel wretch=C2=94, and Loli=
ta his victim; that
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Nabokov shouldn=C2=92t be confused with his protagonist and=
 never committed
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">the evil deeds he describes in his novel; that art transcen=
ds ethics
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">(though they refrain from openly saying so). Yet I tend to =
have some
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">reservation about his following statement: =C2=93One of the=
 most important
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">things in human life is freedom, including freedom from man=
ipulation,
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">from unfair and false persuasion and pressure, and from opp=
ression.
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Humbert tries to manipulate and pressure us as he has manip=
ulated <br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Lolita. We need to learn to resist. Lolita is the supreme e=
xercise in
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">literature of the challenge of reading against the characte=
r narrating.=C2=94
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">I agree with him that, when teaching, one should remind the=
 students
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">that Humbert=C2=92s behavior in the real world is morally a=
nd legally <br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">unacceptable, but does it mean that one should give a clini=
cal reading
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">of the novel? He might almost give the impression of sugges=
ting that
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">when he calls the therapists to the rescue: =C2=93one of th=
e strongest claims
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">on behalf of Lolita, surely, is that sex abuse therapists f=
ind it so
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">valuable, so insightful, so genuinely therapeutic, such a c=
lear way of
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">showing the psychology of an abuser. See the attached artic=
le by Lucia
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Williams, and note her references to the work of Sokhna Fal=
l.=C2=94<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Following his advice, I read Williams=C2=92 interesting art=
icle and came
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">across the following passage: =C2=93why is it again that we=
 cannot use the
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">term love when child sexual abuse is concerned? It is not e=
xcessive
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">morality as pedophiles criticize, but what is at stake is t=
he inequality
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">of power: an adult who is in a relationship of responsibili=
ty or trust
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">(=C2=85) ultimately takes advantage of a child who is still=
 developing =C2=96
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">solely to gratify or satisfy the adult=C2=92s needs.=C2=94 =
What other terms,
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">except perversion or sexual greed, can be used to label Hum=
bert=C2=92s <br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">passion for Lolita? I agree, of course, with her moral and =
legal <br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">approach to this difficult problem. Years ago, I ran a crea=
tive writing
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">workshop in Grasse prison; the only prisoners who agreed to=
 participate
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">were sexual offenders, and more specifically =C2=93pointeur=
s=C2=94, pedophiles. I
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">never tried to make them write about their personal experie=
nce, but many
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">of them felt the urge to do it and often insisted that they=
 truly loved
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">the girls they had intercourse with, or that they did it wi=
th their full
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">consent, which wasn=C2=92t always the case, I am sure. Each=
 time, I used the
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">same arguments as William does in her article to tell them =
that it was
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">ethically and legally wrong to have sexual intercourse with=
 children and
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">young teenagers but I usually failed to convince them.<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Yet, Humbert did love Lolita. Nabokov does his best to unde=
rline that,
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">especially in the Coalmont chapter. As Samuel Johnson said =
in his <br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">dictionary, the novel as a literary genre is =C2=93a small =
tale, generally of
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">love.=C2=94 Modern novelists since Guilleragues, Defoe and =
Richardson have
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">endeavored to present a wide spectrum of the different bran=
ds and shades
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">of love and of a large range of perversions that often acco=
mpany them;
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">and Nabokov contributed to this age-old enterprise perhaps =
more than any
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">other novelist, as I have tried to show both in my Lacanian=
 study,
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Nabokov ou la cruaut=C3=A9 du d=C3=A9sir (Champ Vallon, 200=
4), and in my essay on
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">the poetic dimension of desire in his novels, Nabokov=C2=92=
s Eros or the
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Poetics of Desire (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014), a totally dif=
ferent book.<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Lolita isn=C2=92t an autobiography but a work of fiction =C2=
=96 even if the highly
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">unreliable and somewhat unbalanced narrator of my latest no=
vel, Le Rapt
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">de Lolita (Orizons, 2018), argues that it is the autobiogra=
phy of a
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">close friend of his in Paris and endeavors to show that Nab=
okov stole
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">his manuscript. What I mean here (not in my novel) is that =
the criteria
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">to judge Humbert and the book itself can=C2=92t be only tho=
se I used with the
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">=C2=93pointeurs=C2=94, the participants in my creative writ=
ing workshop. Lolita is
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">a moving tragedy, not only for Humbert who is tortured by h=
is perverse
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">sexual desire for young girls and eventually grows to conce=
ive genuine
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">love for Lolita, but also to some extent for Nabokov himsel=
f whose
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">figure remains omnipresent in the book. He is one of the di=
scursive
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">actants of the novel, not only through John Ray=C2=92s fore=
word and his
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">afterword =C2=96 genuine =C2=93thresholds=C2=94 of Humbert=C2=
=92s confession which are now
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">part of the novel itself. One must bear in mind that Naboko=
v wrote the
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">article published in the Anchor Review, =C2=93On a Book Ent=
itled Lolita=C2=94, at
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">a time when the novel still remained unpublished in the Sta=
tes, and only
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">months after it was actually banned in France. Later, he in=
sisted that
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">it be inserted in the subsequent editions of his novel and =
for obvious
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">reasons: he refused to be confused with his perverse protag=
onist and
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">narrator, and wished to proclaim his eminent esthetic ambit=
ions. Reading
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Lolita without taking into account Humbert=C2=92s countless=
 signs of bad
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">faith in the body of the novel, along with the author=C2=92=
s repeated <br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">attempts, inside the text or at its outskirts, to affirm hi=
s moral
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">values and prompt us to read the novel in consequence, amou=
nts in my
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">opinion to misreading it. That=C2=92s how the poetic web of=
 sense is woven in
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">this marvelous book. This has nothing to do with intentiona=
l fallacy. I
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">would be surrendering to this fallacy if I were to judge th=
e novel only
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">with the criteria underlined by Nabokov in the afterword an=
d his many
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">subsequent statements.<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">One must study the novel in all its complexity and ambiguit=
y: as the
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">confession of a tormented and cruel pedophile who feels at =
once guilty
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">for what he has done but still cherishes the experience as =
his poetic
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">text testifies, and who not only abused a little girl, but =
believes or
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">wants to believe (not totally with bad faith) that she sedu=
ced him,
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">children being capable of that (not that we should forgive =
their <br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">abusers, I repeat); as a genuine love story on his part; as=
 a tragedy of
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">desire, of the cruelty of desire; as a textbook study of pe=
dophilia (why
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">not?); as a poetic work aiming to show that art may transce=
nd ethics,
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">even though it has a certain degree of social responsibilit=
y, etc. etc.
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Only an empathic cum critical approach to the novel can beg=
in to give us
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">access to its incredible depth. Limiting oneself to one sin=
gle of these
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">(and other) options amounts to showing a lack of respect fo=
r Nabokov=C2=92s
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">immense achievement. That=C2=92s why, of course, teaching t=
he novel <br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">constitutes such a tremendous challenge!<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Gilles Deleuze once wrote that =C2=93one can=C2=92t say a t=
hing and its meaning at
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">the same time.=C2=94 This remains true even of such a tyran=
nical author as
<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Vladimir Nabokov.<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Maurice Couturier<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">33.0493602878<br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr"><br>
</div>
<div dir=3D"ltr">Search archive with Google:<br>
</div>
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<div dir=3D"ltr">The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada: <a href=3D=
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