Saturday, September 19, 2015

"'her sobs in the night'"

     "Critics admire the aesthetic perfection of Vladimir[ Nabokov]'s novels but tend to neglect their moral and psychological genius.  Vladimir's two greatest books are warnings to himself, studies in the price he would have paid had he tried (somewhat as his cousin Nicolas had tried) to make real in his present-day life the vision of beauty he had seen long ago in Russia.  Lolita tells the story of a polyglot émigré who embraces what he takes to be an embodiment of his lost youthful vision in the person of an adolescent American girl.  As Humbert Humbert recalls only once (the point needs to be made only once), the result is 'her sobs in the nightevery night, every nightthe moment I feigned sleep.'"

     Edward Mendelson, "Lives & loves of the exile," The New York review of books 62, no. 14 (September 24, 2015), 47 (46-48).
     I have never read Lolita, and, so, must take Mendelson at his word.

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