Re: RARA-AVIS: RE : Lolita and noir

Date: 27 Feb 2007

Patrick lectured me for my implication that he regarded humor and seriousness as mutually exclusive:

"Mark, when you do this kind of thing it's called 'a strawman argument.' That is, I say something and you reposition what I say to be something you, or anyone else for that matter, can easily refute. It's a form of sophistry and unworty of serious argument. When I say Nabokov uses humor in Lolita to TAKE THE EDGE OFF WEIGHTY TOPICS, etc, it does not therefore follow that I think all humor has no substance."

I'll allow that, however . . .

"My point, which I'm absolutely certain you fully comprehend at this juncture, is that while there is humor sprinkled throughout Lolita, Lolita is NOT, like Jeeves Takes Charge, Forest Gump, or How I Won The War, a 'funny book.'"

No, I do not at all understand that Lolita is not a funny book. I understand that YOU do not regard it a funny book. Several others have testified that they found Lolita very funny. And I have heard other people whose taste in and opinions of literature I respect claim the same. Is it sophistry for me to find it arrogant that you allow no correct response to the book but your own?

"Lolita is designed to give the reader an occasional smile while considering the circumstances in life that can create this sort of dangerous situation."

And we're back to my impression that there are some subjects that you find so weighty and serious that you could never regard them as funny, regardless of their treatment (I bet we all have such areas, though not the same ones). Pedophilia clearly seems to be such a subject for you. In a prior post, you mentioned some morbid things you do find funny, but
(and excuse me if you feel I'm putting words in your mouth, but this is how I remember it) that pedophilia is too "dangerous [a] situation" to ever be funny. Hence my inferring you find some subjects too weighty for humor.

Has Nabokov ever discussed his use of humor in the book? Has he ever said whether or not he regards Lolita as funny? (This is not rhetorical, I really don't know.)


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