Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nabokov on Lolita covers

This video of Nabokov commenting on various covers for different language editions of Lolita has been floating around the blogosphere for a while now.  Apparently, Nabokov's favorite is the Dutch edition, which, inside the flap (on the book itself) has a picture, from behind, of a young, naked "nymphette", as Humbert Humbert would call her.

Nabokov, I think, is one of the previous centuries greatest writers.  It's become rather passe to disagree with the previous sentence. Still, videos like this make me wonder about the question you're not supposed to ask (I think there was an n+1 article about this a while back, but I don't have the energy right now to search for and link to it): did Nabokov have pediophilic tendencies? 

I personally think the answer to that question is yes. His thrill in this cover - which, to my mind, is basically softcore porn, is somewhat disturbing to me.  I'm not sure why, though.  I mean, I don't find the scenes in Lolita (some of which are incredibly graphic - the scene where Humbert masturbates while Lolita is on his lap can't get much more explicit, I think, than it already it is) all that disturbing.  I think many of them are beautiful.  Yet, for some reason, when Nabokov - the writer himself, stares down with what I must assume to be lecherous eyes at the naked youth on the cover of the novel, I am disgusted.  (It only makes it worse that, as a friend pointed out, Nabokov is leering while in a bathrobe).

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