By Julian W. Connolly
(Studies in Russian and Slavic literatures, cultures and heritage)
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Extra resources for A reader's guide to Nabokov's Lolita
That was stupid, of course, but it was so. ” This simply began, finally, to drive me out of my mind. I will note with that, as a phenomenon, that I do not recall a single exception: everybody asked. Some of them seemingly had no need at all to ask; who the devil could have had any need of it, I’d like to know? But everybody asked, everybody to a man. Hearing that I was simply Dolgoruky, the asker ordinarily measured me with a dull and stupidly indifferent look, indicating thereby that he did not know himself why he had asked, and walked away.
Arkady bears his name only by chance, but the old man becomes a spiritual father for him. After meeting him for the first time and talking with him only briefly, the adolescent bursts out feverishly: “I’m glad of you. Maybe I’ve been waiting for you a long time. I don’t love any of them; they have no seemliness . . I won’t go after them, I don’t know where I’ll go, I’ll go with you . ” But later he makes the same declaration to Versilov, when the latter finally seems to welcome him as his son: “‘Now I have no need for dreams and reveries, now you are enough for me!
The reader will perhaps be horrified at the frankness of my confession and will ask himself simple-heartedly: how is it that the author doesn’t blush? I reply that I’m not writing for publication; I’ll probably have a reader only in some ten years, when everything is already so apparent, past and proven that there will no longer be any point in blushing. And therefore, if I sometimes address the reader in my notes, it’s merely a device. My reader is a fantastic character. Arkady also turns out to share some of the underground man’s opinions, for instance about rational egoism and social progress.