story of a disappointment

Some days I just don't understand the world at all. When the low pressure system conspires with my decreasingly adequate spectacle prescription and the fact that I haven't eaten any sufficient protein in over 24 hours, I stumble around the house, in front of a glaring computer screen, over a hungry cat, and I spill Whiskas milk on a freshly washed mat. I try to read Nabokov while the letters dance all over the page, I drink three more coffees than usual, eat two more steaks than usual, and every sound at the front door (a postman! a delivery man! a Jehovah's Witness!!) sends my palpitating heart into the depths of my womb. Idea! I'll hide on the sofa until it (the heart) claws it's way back into my mediastinum.

It's not too difficult writing like Nabokov, although I accept with regret that such a style would be scarcely congruous with a detective novel.

Even so, I am tempted by the ease with which word count escalates into literary novel heights, when one employs sarcasm and aloof distance to such a delightful end (somebody, stop me!).

Interestingly (to my recent musings anyway) Nabokov's own translation of "Lolita" into Russian (his mother tongue) includes a "Postscriptum" in which Nabokov states:

"Story of this translation is the story of a disappointment. Alas, that 'wonderful Russian language' which, I imagined, still awaits me somewhere, which blooms like a faithful spring behind the locked gate to which I, after so many years, still possess the key, turned out to be non-existent, and there is nothing beyond that gate, except for some burned out stumps and hopeless autumnal emptiness, and the key in my hand looks rather like a lock pick."

I know just how he feels.


  1. Don't be sad! Your writing has improved in English and if you can't go back to the mother's tongue (we share) it's no reason to be nostalgic; it's only fair that the langue dies with the country, or even better, that it disintegrates into variety of flawed little obscure languages of what used to be the Balkan states of Yugoslavia. Besides, Nabokov is such an extreme- he understood, and bet yet, wrote such a perfect English, that the English-born readers/writers of his time (and many years to come) can never achieve... He perfected and improved English language and it's only fair that he could not go back to 'lesser' verses /rhymes...

  2. Thank you Wall! I stopped reading (except for professional literature) when I got to University, and didn't pick it up until a year ago. Since then I read loads and I think that improved my written English the most. It was the matter of matching writing to skill, and as perfectly adequate (and beyond) as my English was for previous work, it wasn't adequate for fiction writing.
    Everything I post here is unedited though, otherwise I am lucky to have people who review my fiction and correct grammar and syntax for me, so I have a decent chance of producing a readable manuscript :)

    But as far as serbo-croatian is concerned, I feel I'll never lose it, but I might be quite wrong. In any case, I'm still getting by on my yugoslavian croatian and serbian, and duly ignoring the "new rules" ;)

  3. Yugoslavia(ns)frozen in time, LOL! that makes two of us. btw, I adore Nabokov and Lolita is, for me, such a love story (never mind the pedophile connotations /accusations)

  4. :)) And I know what you mean about "Lolita". As deplorable as his actions have been throughout the book, the ending made me cry.

  5. you mean, Humbert finding her all grossly grown up, fat and pregnant even, having lost all her childlike innocence...? that's sad in so many ways :))) (you couldn't mean his killing the one and only pedophile, who actually seduced his little companion, defiled and dumped her? the guy deserved to be shot in his crotch twice over!)

  6. Well, Humbert's been having sex with her regularly since her mother died. Since that first night in the hotel room, only later he doesn't include any "lewd" scenes (reading Nabokov's postscriptum, he talks about his decision to not include erotic scenes), rather, he talks about them through a self-pitying guilt prism no doubt initially there because his (Humbert's) manuscript was intended for the jury in his trial.

    There are some pretty gruesome descriptions of the effect his forceful sexuality had on Lolita, how he ignored her sadness, even illness, and still put her through the ordeal in order to satisfy his own needs.

    She only re-enacted her trauma by running away with the playwright (and perhaps he was her only means of escaping Humbert's molestation), who I wouldn't necessarily classify as a paedo, because by the time Lolita got involved with him, she was an adolescent, and it was consensual, as much as a girl in her situation can be seen to consent.

    Humbert is a true paedophile, as evidenced by his compulsive identifying of "nymphettes" (pre-pubescent girls of the type he was attracted to) everywhere he went, spying on schoolchildren, and being exclusively aroused by pre-pubescent looking girls whilst being totally un-aroused by adult women although he bypasses that when absolutely necessary, in order to romance the mother to get to the daughter, or to gain a cover, like with his first wife. It is not uncommon for younger paedophiles to pay for sex with prostitutes who look like young girls, when the libido becomes unbearable (the good old "blue balls" syndrome). Later, he observed that the frantic and no-limits consummation of a relationship with Lolita has "cured him" from seeking another physical relationship with a child. But he remains fixated on "nymphettes" nonetheless.

    In that sense it is a love story, a story of obsession, a monster in love, and yes, when he goes to see her when she is pregnant and married, unconditional love is there, such as can be held only for a lover and a child simultaneously. The revenge towards the man who "stole her innocence" can be seen as part of that love, but I don't think it necessarily is.

    By the time he finds Lolita, Humbert's psyche is breaking down. I don't see him as delusional, but as someone who is deluding himself. He "conveniently" stops talking about how he violated her, and focuses on the playwright, but as a narcissist and a sort-of psychopath that Humbert is, I get the feeling he is killing a rival, a man who stole his possession, rather than a molester of his love (even though that is his excuse).

    And yet, despite all of this, one can not fail to cry reading the last page in the novel. Sublime accomplishment on behalf of Nabokov, methinks :)

  7. true,accurate, yet a cold clinical dissection of a more complex man/ relationship than this; I disagree on your verdict on Hum's pursuing/killing a 'rival' rather than a true psychopath/pervert/menace (to Lolita and all other child-girls out there).don't forget Lo's very 'adult' behavior in trading sex/favors for stuff that she wanted, pursued and her numerous possibilities to 'tell on daddy', or simply flee. and yet, despite everything listed on your part, or mine, I fully agree with your final sentence on Nabokov's sublime accomplishment; his Hum character, no matter how despicable his actions are, is not only masterfully brought to life by his words, but also profoundly human on so many levels and as much deplorably beautiful as Poe' Annabel Lee, or any other fictional character we sympathize, regardless of his horrific actions (how many of us cheered for gruesome character/s like Hannibal Lecter?)..a mere poem of Dolorez Haze (Nabokov wrote) exonerates him :)))