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Nabokov, a closet Pedophile?
According to Nabokov, he stated " of all my books, Lolita has left me with the most pleasurable afterglow."
Such tenacious preoccupation with a taboo theme as perservering as Humbert's yearning for Annabel...belies Nabokov's assertions that Pedophilia held no special significance for him. But was he a pedophile himself?
I find it most intriguing to look beyond the solipsism, abuse, puns, and allusions and delve into the reason Nabokov spent decades writing about child molestation and rape. His penchant for literary intimacy with very young pre pubescent girls exposes a man who chose to ignore the sexual slavery of a twelve year old girl and violate deep rooted sexual and social taboos.
He first developed the theme of the hidden pedophile in his novel "Dar", written between 1935-37. Then expanded the theme into a novella "The Enchanter" in 1939; wrote the 300 plus page "Lolita" between 1949-1954; drafted a full length screenplay in 1960; single handedly translated Lolita in Russian over a two year period, 1965-67; followed by "Ada" in 1969.
To stop undesirable speculation, Nabokov insistantly portrayed himself as naive on such matters of pedophilia and that he had to do extensive research simply to be able to write about the subject intelligibly.
He claimed he read so many case histories, travelled America, collected butterflies or whatever. An excellent maneuver, but there was just one little problem: Ten years or more before "Loilta", Nabokov had written two or more portrayals of pedophilia that between them demonstrated unequivocally that he had complete mastery of child kidnappping, rape, and intimate details of pre pubescent girls bodies.
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Re: Nabokov, a closet Pedophile?
The issue you're talking about here is one James Joyce deals with extensively in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, namely viewing an artist's work as a reflection on him/herself as a person. I write, as I'm sure many people on this website do, and have extensive knowledge on a number of subjects that I would never use in daily life. I (for example) know the fastest way to incapacitate someone with a choke is not to close over their windpipe but rather to place enough pressure on the carotid artery so as to cause a "blood choke" wherein oxygenated blood is no longer making it to the brain. It takes considerably less time and the likelihood of dying from the choke is much lower. That said, I've never actually felt the need to leap (I'm quite short) up at anyone and take them down with such a maneuver.
This is one small example and I am merely using it to illustrate a point. Nabokov was obviously interested in the subject of child sexuality and molestation as a writer, but that hardly makes him a pedophile. The idea that you think it safe to judge the moral fiber of a writer based, not on something they've ever done but rather on something they write about is abhorrent to me and quite frankly deeply frightening. It's that sort of thinking that leads to over-censorship of art and persecution of artists themselves. Knowledge of a subject, desire to explore that subject as a writer, desire to force your audience to face such a subject head-on makes you guilty of nothing more than sensationalism. And while sensationalism can be trying, it's hardly in league with pedophilia.
Joined: Apr 2011 Posts: 58 Location: Philadelphia
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Re: Nabokov, a closet Pedophile?
Although I am hostile to Lolita as a masterwork, I have to agree scarlet, that accusing Nabokov of being in the closet on eroticizing children goes too far. Nabokov is a polemicist, primarily, even if he is Anglophile. Russian authors like exposing American materialism as something horrid, tweaking the western nose, as such, and Nabokov did it best. It is not a literal May December match, such as you find in White Oleander between the daughter and the foster mother's lover.
_________________ Il mondo sta bene cosi com'e. --Giordano Bruno
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