February 21, 2012

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns. ~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Lolita is another book that I love and hate at the same time, much like Portnoy's Complaint. Humbert Humbert is so skeezy, but it’s such lovely prose you are seduced by him.

But, yesterday, I came across a video of Nabokov talking about his favorite cover of Lolita.  It’s the first time I’ve seen a video of him.  But what I love is that you can hear the lovely pronunciation of the name “Lolita” as he says it.  The description so matches his voice.

For your viewing pleasure.

Thank you, Open Culture!

PS I am reminded of the end of "Bullet in the Brain" by Tobias Wolf: "They is, They is, They is."

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