…and the original nymphet just turned 50.
‘Lolita” was a disturbing book–both in its manner and its matter. Its matter is the relationship–sexual and other–of a European professor and his pubescent American stepdaughter, who he calls by the pet-name Lolita. The book’s manner is more difficult to describe. Its form is a faux first-person memoir written, in the words of the dubious European in question, ”first in the psychopathic ward for observation, and then in this well-heated, albeit tombal, seclusion.” Nabokov’s narrator composes the text in 56 days, at a feverishly brilliant pace. He takes personal, narrative, and linguistic liberties (his native language is French) which are as surprising as they are amusing. He shows brilliance in virtually every respect. The name he elects to write under is Humbert Humbert.
Lolita may have been based on a real-life kidnap, speculates the Australian.
And the Babu’s contemplating an ageing Humbert Humbert faced with a Lolita who’s now 62 years old.
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”
(Lola, darling, pass the Viagra please.)
(Not now, Humby, my varicose veins need massaging, and besides, you know it’s bad for you–last time you had those blue flashes and your heart started racing, sweets.)
“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.”
(Humby, did you remember to put in your dentures? And you mustn’t eat peanut butter, you know how it sticks to your gums, we’ll have to call Nursie in and do a cleaning, won’t we? Were you calling me? It sounded like “Loleeshaa” but then you started spraying spit everywhere, so I couldn’t really tell.)
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock.
(Oh well. She grew. It’s five feet four now, but about four feet around, yes, she always had a sweet tooth, my Lo. The one sock is mine, it’s thick, knitted, in black wool with toe-jam and some chewing gum stuck to the underside. Rising from it is her massive, blue-veined calf with stiff black hairs sticking out like wires. Ah, Lo.)
She was Lola in slacks.
(The other day she turned around in the cereal aisle and slammed three trolleys and a stack of tinned pears all the way over into Garden Accessories. But my Lo’s still independent; no corsets for her, she could’ve done the same thing with her belly as with her ample ass.)
She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line.
(She teaches these days at the local Comprehensive. The boys adore her, some of them have been trying to grow a beard like Miz Dolly’s for ages.)
But in my arms she was always Lolita.
(Humby, you’re so sweet, come on here and let me give you a big hug… Nursie? Nursie! I think I may have cracked his ribs, oh dear, he’s stopped making those feeble noises, now he’s turning blue…)