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The Afterlives of Odette and Albertine in Lolita’s Final Chapters

The Afterlives of Odette and Albertine in Lolita’s Final Chapters The article contributes to the long-standing debate about Lolita’s final nine chapters by arguing for a much tighter connection than previously acknowledged between Nabokov’s most famous novel and Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Turning on the claim that Dolly’s alleged letter from Coalmont has a precedent in the Recherche, the essay proposes that Humbert fabricates the letter from Dolly for similar reasons that Proust’s Narrator makes himself believe that a telegram he receives from Gilberte is a missive from Albertine. The phantom letter in Lolita and the garbled telegram in the Recherche are psychologically therapeutic exercises in misreading and gestures toward paths not taken. But in Nabokov’s case, it is also an experiment in writing the kind of literary freedom he theorized in his 1941 lecture on drama titled “The Tragedy of Tragedy.” The article argues that Dolly’s potential vanishing act pays homage to the mercurial personalities that Nabokov encountered in Proust’s novel and the unconventional literary structures he admired in the works of Pushkin and Chekhov. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

The Afterlives of Odette and Albertine in Lolita’s Final Chapters

Comparative Literature , Volume 72 (3) – Sep 1, 2020

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Copyright
Copyright © 2020 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/00104124-8255361
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The article contributes to the long-standing debate about Lolita’s final nine chapters by arguing for a much tighter connection than previously acknowledged between Nabokov’s most famous novel and Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Turning on the claim that Dolly’s alleged letter from Coalmont has a precedent in the Recherche, the essay proposes that Humbert fabricates the letter from Dolly for similar reasons that Proust’s Narrator makes himself believe that a telegram he receives from Gilberte is a missive from Albertine. The phantom letter in Lolita and the garbled telegram in the Recherche are psychologically therapeutic exercises in misreading and gestures toward paths not taken. But in Nabokov’s case, it is also an experiment in writing the kind of literary freedom he theorized in his 1941 lecture on drama titled “The Tragedy of Tragedy.” The article argues that Dolly’s potential vanishing act pays homage to the mercurial personalities that Nabokov encountered in Proust’s novel and the unconventional literary structures he admired in the works of Pushkin and Chekhov.

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2020

References