Critical essays on vladimir nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita

Boyle, and it stands on its own as a perfect little gem of an essay.

From the Archive, Issue 229

Boyle, who died in May of this year at age 88, accompanied Nabokov and his wife on a butterfly collecting trip to Arizona. At the conclusion of his story Boyle writes:. He walked up a dirt road alone. Nabokov lent her net to their visitor.

With a whoop of joy, the visitor snared a white-winged beauty. Cupping it in his hands, he showed it to Nabokov who dismissed it airily.

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Playboy Interview: Vladimir Nabokov

What is there to say? I am ashamed for the butterflies. I apologize for the butterflies.

Conversations includes two pieces by the late Alfred J. Appel Jr. In the latter, he rivals Charles Kinbote in feats of manic pedantry. In contrast to Appel is the more laconic, less sycophantic approach of James Mossman. Here is the concluding exchange in his Listener interview from JM: Which is the worst thing men do?

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VN: To stink, to cheat, to torture. JM: Which is the best? VN: To be kind, to be proud, to be fearless. He was a proud American, stalwart anticommunist, friend of William F.

Politics claimed his father, brother, and homeland. He jealously guarded the autonomy of his art from alien incursions, whether by Stalinists, Nazis, or other thugs and schemers. Nabokov told Alvin Toffler in his interview with Playboy :.


Since my youth — I was 19 when I left Russia — my political creed has remained as bleak and changeless as an old gray rock. It is classical to the point of triteness.

A climax of irony and misunderstanding is reached when it turns out that she has already been seduced, at the instigation of another girl of her own age, by a boy in a summer camp — and that it is she, not Humbert, who wants cheerfully to go the whole way. It is Lolita's amorality no less than Humbert's perversion that brings about the final disaster. Some readers will say that there is at this point a wry identification of her with the innocent shoddiness of American civilisation, which complements the emphasis on the specifically European character of Humbert's sophisticated psychopathy.

Other readers will reply that this is a misreading both of the novel and of American character as seen by Nabokov. On that there is room to differ: but beyond doubt the satire has its poignancy, and if one can bear to read of the leading actors in this realistic drama, one must have compassion for them. These, then, are the main themes of the novel — these and Humbert's remorse on realising that he has kept Lolita imprisoned with him for far too long.

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From the literary point of view the book becomes a little formless at the end, but until then it retains its Chaucerian compression. It can do no adult in his senses any harm. Its ethical climate may be immoral — but neither more nor less immoral than many of the comic classics of European literature Restoration comedy among them.

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It cannot be commended for persons who are less than mature; but that is not reason for preventing its publication. If Messrs Weidenfeld and Nicolson decide to go ahead with it, they will be doing no worse than its American publishers.

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