Re: RARA-AVIS: RE : Lolita and noir

From: Patrick King (
Date: 22 Feb 2007

Well, Bob, clearly you don't get my meaning at all. Thompson and Highsmith are being droll in those instances and their descriptions are funny. Kevin Weeks' description of moving victims in Brutal: the untold story of my life inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob, was not very funny at all. Humbert's comparison of Lolita's desire for him to her desire for lunch, a Humburger to a Hamburger was somewhat funny but it doesn't mark the book as a "very funny book." Personally, I think people who want to pigeonhole Lolita as a "funny book" are embarrassed by the fact that Nabakov used Lolita to undermine his readers' sensibilites. It's a great novel written from the perspective of America's most reprehensible type of criminal. It puts that criminal in perspective as a human, not a monster. It even strikes at the very real urge of age to hunger for youth and beauty. Everyone does this. Mary K. Letourneau can't restrain herself, many of the rest of us can. By accepting Lolita as a great novel, we are also forced to accept our own potential for evil. As Humbert finds out, the reality is not as fine as the fantasy. Any good novel employs humor, pathos, drama, and psychology in even measures to move the reader. Lolita is at the very least a good novel, but unlike Forest Gump, Breakfast of Champions, or Huckleberry Finn, humor is not it's main objective. That's my point.

Patrick King
--- bobav1 < rav7@COLUMBIA.EDU> wrote:

> Dear Patrick:
> OK, you win.
> Lolita = not funny
> Corpse-moving = funny funny
> If I understand your concluding sentences, Lolita is
> not funny any
> more than the lives of actual child molesters are
> funny, but
> corpse-moving is funny because the lives of actual
> murdering
> corpse-movers can be funny.
> And clearly, the discussion of humor in
> is simply
> deluded.
> Thank you for making my day :) (No, really …quot; your
> email is wonderfully
> Nabokovian!)
> Loving rara-avis,
> Bob V in NYC
> P.S. Amen to the superb stewardship of Denton!
> P.P.S. Do Lankford and Doherty wish to weigh in on
> how Altman got the
> Mexican dogs to hump on cue?
> The reply to Richard Moore:
> Okay, but there's a lot more humor in Thompson's
> Recoil, when Pat has
> to get that corpse out of the elevator, or in
> Highsmith's Ripley
> Underground when Ripley is trying to get the corpse
> out of his wine
> cellar in the wheelbarrow and it keeps falling over,
> than there is
> anywhere in Lolita. Lolita is a psychological study
> of one type of
> child molester...and the child he molests, for in
> Lolita, the child is
> NOT innocent. Nabokov makes Humbert a tragic but not
> detestable
> figure. Clair Quilty is much easier to hate than
> Humbert is. One can
> even relate in some ways to Humbert's problem. In
> the wide world there
> is some crazy denial that children don't think about
> sex until they're
> 16 or so. Anyone's who's actually lived life knows
> children experiment
> with sex much much younger than that. That adults
> have a
> responsibility to control their behavior with
> children is the given.
> That some adults cannot and why, is the subject of
> the novel. I'm sure
> there were passages in Lolita that made me smile,
> but I would not
> categorize Lolita as a "very funny" novel. Any more
> than the life of
> Paul Shanley was a very funny life.
> Patrick King
> --- In, Patrick King
> <abrasax93@...> wrote:
> >
> > Frankly, Bob, no, I don't find those passages
> "funny"
> > at all. I find them to be true and beautiful.
> >

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