måndag, september 03, 2007

Lolita & Nabokov

Läser Lolita av Vladimir Nabokov och blir inte lämnad i fred, det är för många känslor. Ändå går det inte att sträckläsa boken, den är för obehaglig för det. Sällan har jag läst en bok där huvudpersonen är så osympatisk som pedofilen Humbert i Lolita. "Osympatisk" är kanske till och med en underdrift. Jag är ungefär halvvägs i romanen som är på över fyra hundra sidor, så jag återkommer.

Än så länge nöjer jag mig med att länka till en omfattande artikel om Nabokov, värt att läsa för den som är litteraturintresserad. Ett litet utdrag ur den:

"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."

The sexy trisyllable is the nickname of Dolores Haze, a 12-year-old girl—or “nymphet,” to use Nabokov’s now debased coinage—of stereotypical Americanness, 1950s-style (blue jeans, chewing gum, milkshakes). She is the main object of the obsessive love of her stepfather and seducer, Humbert, who is alternately charming and tyrannical; indeed, Martin Amis interprets the novel as an allegory of Soviet-style tyranny, told from the point of view of the tyrant. “All of Nabokov’s books are about tyranny,” Amis says, “Perhaps Lolita most of all.” It’s an interesting point, but Nabokov’s books are “about” everything else, too: love, memory, life. And Amis’s analysis overlooks the crucial role that parody plays in this novel, as it does in all of Nabokov’s work. Like The Gift, Lolita has many targets in its sights, being at once a parody of classic romances of the doomed-love type once so popular in the salons of tsarist Russia (a certain Anna K. comes to mind); of the traditional bildungsroman of Stendhal and Tolstoy; of the medieval pilgrimage tale; and, last but not least, of the Oedipal theory expounded by that elderly Viennese gentleman with whom Nabokov enjoyed fencing. Many literal-minded readers and critics, having missed the parody, miss the point. “Had I not written Lolita, readers would not have started finding nymphets in my other works and in their own households,” said Nabokov. Lolita’s “innocence” certainly seems less sui generis than the calculated decadence of Humbert, who is a parody figure of everything corrupt and decaying about the Old World as seen by the New.

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