Thursday, June 17, 2010

Notes to Modern American Novel

Notes to Modern American Novel

Notes to Huckleberry Finn

Huck’s humor is vicious. Huck is also the straight man for Twain’s jokes. Tom is the cruel, lyric, and barbaric, literary. For Huck, culture is feminized, Bible is feminized. This is a picaresque novel. Refer to 18th century tourism literature. Anti-plot is picaresque. Language is social—it’s not transcendent; it grounds you in place and time. It’s part of culture. Poor people have language, aren’t poor in language. Child narrator misperceives. Huck doesn’t perceive himself as abused.

Huck: constant reversal of our values, destabilizing. Women are bad in the book. Huck’s claim for authenticity is modern; sivilize, authenticity of voice. Rhythm of the book is hope vs. false hope; keeps meeting disappointing people. Huck stands for what’s best in America, different from most other Americans.

Does Twain believe in development, growing into a moral being? Professor thinks he doesn’t. Twain is too pessimistic. Not bildungsroman, transformed by experience. Twain sees character as static.

Twain is interested above all in cognition; how and why do people believe? How do they change? Like Melville is. Study of enslavement of belief. Huck is a major slave: every step forward, two steps back.

Huck is like roadrunner. Survivalism. Scrappy American.

Enslavement as a mental condition. Huck is potentially free to change, but he doesn’t. Huck is ‘reactive’ to pap when he cleans him out or strategic. If there’s any mechanims for change in the book it’s the love between Jim and Huck. We like Huck but we can’t look honestly at him because we like him.

One prominent rhythm in the book: flight from, return to civilization. Another rhythm is aestheticism. Is Huck’s aestheticism moral? Vs the ugliness of life.

Huck’s pathological tolerance for bad shit.

Stasis, idleness is the root of cruelty. Lighting the dog on fire. Huck does bad shit off the raft on land. Regression, becoming less enlightened, giving in to cruelty, river overflows.

Huck is brilliant and original; Tom is conventional. Twain is asking us to judge Huck and people in general. People—light dog on fire, torment pigs with dogs. Larger narrative voice is different from Huck’s.

The Raft: what does it symbolize, concretely: hand-made, pioneer skill. Also, there are no upper and lower decks, one democratic level.

The end: the power of aesthetics to imprison. Complcity—Twain’s beauteous writing with bad stuff. Theatricality is interrogated in the rope-ladder-pie scene. The legacy of slaves, dramatization of suffering is the route to Americanization of formerly marginalized people, e.g. freed slaves. Literary works are complicit in the reestablishment of racism (towards freed blacks) i.e. by Tom the intellectual.

Notes to My Antonia

Cather: mobility is associated with art, storytelling. Novel is centerted on the possibility and destructiveness of migration.

‘A Nation’ (My Antonia) Shimerda (His Dream). “The best days are the first to flee” (Virgil). The writing is beautiful, but Cather is a bit of a let down. Myth making and storytelling are important. Cather’s characters have difficulty being rooted, even if they’re not immigrants. She’s interested in psychological mobility, classic feature of American modernism. Cather is first obvious case of cosmopolitanism, citizens of the world. Defy local attachments. Cather was male-identified lesbian. Cosmopolitanism is often identified with unstable gender identification. Cather’s experiences similar to Jim’s. Cather interested in voluntary vs involuntary immigration. Americans are adrift, and/or in flight. Greatest divide in America is those who came here voluntarily vs involuntarily.

Nebraska was considered déclassé before Cather. Immigrants: how they reconcile traditional values with America. Railroad: cosmopolitan. Conductor speaks positively about immigrants. Jake’s xenophobia is contrasted with the conductor’s cosmopolitanism. Jake is consumerist dupe. He buys everything. The framework, the trope, highlights the fictionality of the book. The purpose of the book is mythmaking.

“There is nothing but land” : lie. Lots of description of red glass, red landscape; also in motion, moving grass. Blood letting, violence, sacrifice required for the settlement of the west. History of violence, slaughter of buffalo, destroy Indian food.

Union with land, transcendental, idealistic. Portrayal of Mr Shimerda’s grave. Catholic sin, suicide. Failure as an immigrant to stay, survive. Jim—port of the artifice of the book. Not childlike at all, not like Huckleberry.

Suicide: the clemency of the soft earth. Leniency of nature. Vs. the law. Darwinian violence of the landscape. The sacrifice of the Indians, vs Mr Shimerda’s sacrifice of himself for his family. Left his country for his family to move. Family appreciates. Nature is therefore positive, according to Jim. Mr Shimerda is a delicate artist.

Immigrants brings new agriculture, methods to the land. Immigrants are more prosperous than others. Part of the mythology is the ‘my’ Antonia. Positive, embrace nature is Jim’s mythology, not Darwinian nature.

Huck/Jim moment when looking at the stars; Cather hated Twain (loved James) yet she imitates him. Ideal of shared beliefs, stargazing, star influence. Unification through wonderment at a star.

Jim’s guilt, western mythology. Tall tales, survival, Robinson Crusoe.

Walter Benjamin: The storyteller: fiction is the warmth given off by death—we can’t experience and survive except through story. The chance to make death meaningful, guilty pleasure in survival.

Sleigh—immigrants who are on it have to throw shit off to survive. Give up too much? For some.

Peter, correspondence with the wolves; eat as if there’s no tomorrow. Peter eats all the melons. The survivor’s impulse: melons are mine, my final possession. Mr. Shimerda notably lacks this (Peter’s) impulse.

Cather is telling us that storytelling is morally indifferent—no judgments of Peter eating melons. Versus Twain, who confirms the reactivity of morality. Twain is a moralist. Cather’s novel doesn’t comment on some ugly moralities: race, Indians.

Piano scene: Mizruchi wonders whether it’s as important as she thinks it is. Cather was a music devotee. Cather’s portrait of other immigrants is different from piano player, black. There’s something unfair and illogical in expecting (old) writers to share our political views on race. Negro pianist as an early stereotype, negative, othering. Sensualizing portrait, monstrous.

19th century European immigrants didn’t assimilate because they were white; they became white because the assimilated. So no problem today with other races assimilating, because they do it fast, therefore they become white.

Notes to The Great Gatsby

Inevitable initial response is to fall for Nick. Mizruchi’s goal is to ruin him for us.

Materialism: Huck wants to be able to shuck off consumerism. In My Antonia, you, an immigrant, have to be willing to throw everything (material, values) overboard to survive and prosper in the new world. Nick says one thing about materialism, the novel says another.

A lot of the characters drink because their material desires are already met. Myrtle and Gatsby are so important because they, the aspirers, are the ones who bolster the class system. Desire and dissatisfaction make them attractive to Tom and Nick. Nick, in contrast, seems to be going nowhere or backward. Family doesn’t know what to do with him. He’s almost 30, and on a tight allowance. He’s nearly a failure. He falls for Gatsby. Do we like him because he falls for Gatsby? Nick is funny, more like Holden Caufield than any of the characters in this course.

Advertisers always aim slightly above the class status of the target class. Flattery sells.

Americans who want to be upper class and have things, vs. American populist streak; hatred of rich. If you want to love Daisy, you have to put aside populism. Fitzgerald is asking us to identify with the rich. One reason we hate [high] taxes is that we all believe we’re going to be rich.

We love Nick because he’s weaving a myth (of money?) that we need.

Gatsby’s smile: celebrity, Walter Benjamin. ‘aura’ not a personal quality.

Class dimensions of Nick: he’s snotty, he’s just subtle about it.
Is Nick moral? Mizruchi thinks so, even though he’s evasive. He does care about being a moral person.

Description of the material world is vibrant--the grass is more alive, the rug is more alive than Daisy. Material world has become naturalized. The aspiration [for manmade objects] is to become naturalized, obscure artificiality. They want to seem not made by human hands.

Materialism as Redemption? Have things? Have gifts from god? Blessed? Max Weber. Wealth and virtue are interdependent. (Nick’s belief. That’s a fact. BAM.) Weber’s version is a critique of this. But Fitzgerald/Nick may be ambivalent. The super-rich are a recipient of God’s bounty.

Timelessness in advertising. Overcoming time. Nullifying the effect of age. Can’t recapture the past? Gatsby says, ‘of course you can’. Irony: Commodities are only begun when sold. Car loses value when sold because it enters time.

Nick’s unconscious narration reveals continuity between aesthete (care for his writing) and world of advertising. Nick’s purpose is to conceal the logic of the American class system (which tells us we can be whatever we can afford). When in reality there is no social mobility. Myrtle and Gatsby die.

Morality for Nick is aesthetic beauty and perception. Gass says no.

Swollen length of car: penis. Misogynistic violence: car kills, rips Myrtle’s breast.

Material world is animate and sacred. Catholic Fitzgerald.

Nick’s racism: the underside of his myth of purity. Fix world series, purity of baseball no more.

Gatsby characters drink to anesthetize. Depressed because romantics. Sun Also Rises characters are already anesthetized. They drink to seek pain, or as inability to feel. They’re cynics.

Notes to The Sun Also Rises

‘All you have to do is write 1 true sentence; it must be the truest sentence you know.’ A Moveable Feast. Repetition in novel. Does it lead to clarity? What does ‘true’ here mean? Does all the repetition help you?

‘Not really such a bad novel…but a very poor novel.’ Links between Hemingway and prejudice and style. Characters are always making distinctions (which don’t add up to clearness).

Discriminate/Taste/Prejudice/Economy vs. Indiscriminate/Wasteful and Dissolute.

There are constant value judgments in a world where value is fundamentally unclear.

Jake is a lapsed Catholic, and yet he’s Puritanical, and has a strong work ethic. Get work done to feel okay. He thinks constantly about being financially sound. Also, payment is important to relationships. Women have to pay and pay.

Brett is the center of desire, Circe, around whom men revolve. Yet financially powerless and parasitic. Morality of exchange? Financial preoccupation is connected to the way this world is spiritually bereft. They yearn to believe and feel.

How concise is the novel really. Spareness. Jake seems to be the ultimate emissary for sparseness. Post WWI, values are shattered: hemingway’s writing on writing: war characters have been shattered by war. Jake literally wounded beyond repair by war. The war was senseless. There were many words Hemingway couldn’t bear to hear after it, like sacred and glorious. He said prose built of what was left without sacred and glorious.

Hemingway is really hostile. People are limiters of happiness. He said to Fitzgerald: heaven is a bull ring, with a private trout stream. His style, to tell us what we need to know and nothing more. Monkey wrench: repetition, e.g. ‘nice’ in opening. Does the repetition of nice make more clear? No. enhancement of ambiguity and obscurity. Repeat and raise more questions. ‘The truest sentence…true’.

The Hemingway writer discriminates in taste. Portrait of jews, blacks, gays, 3 most targeted by Nazis and Fascists in WWII…

Novel is interested in discrimination: formal, thematic, political. Mizruchi thinks this is a mean book. Jake wounded, we should sympathize; but we should reject his hatred. These impulses to hatred are so carefully dramatized, it’s difficult to see them as unqualified… Hemingway doesn’t believe? Book does critique—like Tunnel. Book does not endore these hatreds.

Why start the novel with Cohn? The narrative confers instability on us. He’s done some investigating on Robert—jealous. ‘nice’ is faint praise. Robert is from a great family—old and rich, yet crumbles. No money, fictional world of loss. You have money, you lose it: Jake.

Passiveness: amble around and drink. Passive voice. Masochist: jake and cohn. Willingness to put up with being scapegoat of social circle, analogy to bullfights. Cohn’s satisfaction at nose being flattened. Have a wound, red badge of courage.

Anesthetized. Can’t feel at all. Pain is the best way? Characters seek out situations where they risk being hurt. Women have to pay and pay (spill blood) to get pleasure. The chief route to pleasure.

Post-war, seeking reenactment of war experience. Not that far from ‘cutting’ need to feel something intensely. (therefore are characters internalizing anger?)

The Jew in exile, exaggerated exile, like all ex-pats. Jews are a race back then. Today, not so much. Italians too.

Robert’s romanticism is ridiculed. Robert is like Tom Sawyer. Dopey adolescent. Robert is a major irritant, we’re supposed to not like him. Pre-P.C. times, where we discriminate against jews and look down on masochism. Also pathetic desire to fit in: greedy grasping jews.

The point in Hemingway: you want to be wounded, but be cool, not have desire.

Lack of concision in Hemingway. Not Strunk and White. Those unnecessary statements are about control. Marlborough Man. Narrative moves to evade emotion. But unnecessary statements. There’s a dearth of verbs. Ecclesiastes: fundamentally static. Not much happens over the course of the novel. They are spectators.

He is still somewhat concise. It’s not Faulkner.

Dillard: bringing in everything in the world. Hemingway is decorous. (what does this mean?) For every stylistic tendency, there’s a thematic and political correlative. Writing is everything to Jake. Writing is a moral act in an amoral world. But what is moral? The way the people are not redeemed.

When you don’t know who’s speaking in the novel, deemphasizes individuation. It’s a circle a group of people. Anonymity enables people in a crowd to indulge violence. Precursor to the 3rd Reich. Group talk. ‘damned’. Defines crowd mores. People can get away with things they hate themselves for, e.g. seeing Mike abuse Robert. Morality is about what disgusts you.

Redemptive events? Bullfighting is traditional heroism in a modern world. It judges the people who respond to it; and those who judge it well are good. Establish your superiority. It’s real emotion and danger, not rhetoric. Obvious parallel to writing. Both are moral measures. Those who respond well to it achieve a certain moral position or even superiority. Bullfighting is a strive for perfection. Robert fails to appreciate. Problem/difference: bullfighting is a communal activity, not writing.

Danger—writing has to be about risking a wound. Ideal way of living. Yet, bullfighting ideal undermined, e.g. by the waiter who is disgusted by it. The novel is suggesting through the waiter that bloodlust is sick ultimately. The waiter is the conscience of bullfighting.

The book is so bleak, the bleakest of the course. It’s down on humanity. We’re sick.

Novels have to be smarter than their authors. Condeira? Hemingway was a hypocrite, so what. Novels can be more moral. (I don’t want to be lectured about bloodlust from people who attend bullfights, yet it’s the waiter who is lecturing me. The novel [waiter] is contrasted to Jake [Hemingway]).

Hemingway is limited in moral culpability because he killed himself.

Morality of language: if you simply describe the world, it’s a ritual in its own right. Might not content you, but it keeps you clean to keep looking.

Notes to As I Lay Dying

All characters become subjects and objects.

Flux: little sense of a foreground or background because switching consciousnesses. Even so, there is some growth (bildungsroman, a little). Outsiders’ narratives tend to fill in plot and details. Vs family narrators. The truth, e.g. who loves whom, lies between the outsiders and family narrative.

Varieties of Stream of Consciousness. Radical relativism of perception.

Written in 6 weeks when working 12 hour days. Lie, probably, but it was a charmed experience.

Vardaman, 6 year old talks too maturely. Death of mother can stimulate mind to heights, specifically linguistic. 6 year old capable of Vardaman’s eloquence. Faulkner wants us to realize southerners talk richly.

Critical tradition says: family is a picture of yeoman farmer’s will to survive. Vs. decaying society beholden to market values.

AILD does have a lot to say about consumption even though it is set apart from consumerism. Characters are preoccupied with consumerism. Consumerism is a way to fight death. Desire is a coping mechanism.

Giving and getting are big in the novel. Not so different from previous class novel. Cash—Christ symbol, carpenter, in competition with machines of production.

Rewriting the Scarlet Letter deliberately, Jewel/Pearl.

To think about commodification here, is to address desires created by loss/grief.

Anse: false teeth; Vardaman: toy train; Dewey Dell: abortion; Cash: grammiphone. At the end of the novel, all sit and eat an exotic fruit: banana.

Epictetus: stoicism. Say you give back, not you lose. Dead child. Contract exchange. Jewel is stoic, but masking passion. He’s a love-child.

Novel’s plot: disintegration because of the loss of center (mother). Each character must reexperience the loss in their own way.

Universal response among cultures to loss: consumption, display your vitality, eat, show, stage your survival.

Darl is a stand-in for Faulkner and crazy. Walks through window, empty, stoic, straight-forward, directed. Cigar-store Indian.

Reason you have a lot of kids is to make a lot of workers. Effective division of labor.

Few physical descriptions of characters. Anse’s self-pity story of his feet.

Dewey Dell ~ 17; Vardaman ~ 6; Cash/Darl ~ mid 20s. Addi ~ mid 40s.

Darl- not prophetic, just very sensitive and intuitive. Institutionalized. Cash- privileged sensibility, gets the last word. Sane.

Cora and Tull: defeat Christian reading, they are dumb and Christian. One-up-man-ship of this married couple, always gotta be right.

Addie is a victim of language. Language victimizes people love is private. To confess your kids’ physical needs enrages you is not to minimize your love.

What does God have to do with anyting? What is the place of transcendence?

Cash’s problem is Emersonian. Essay “Experience”. The problem that mourners have is the pain that they feel disconnected (in being) from the terminated.

Jewel is a minister’s son but says “If there is a God, what the hell is he for”

Could Addie have a shed to be buried abroad so as to get her family in better shape, bonded, off the farm for a change?

Anse: thinks he’s Job, no one sufferes more than me, and God loves me most. Angry. Narcissistic. Ultimate fatalist.

Notes to Their Eyes Were Watching God

Hurston, controversial in 30s/40s, for not being typical, not racial enough. Too universal, talking about language, folk, love, gender. Neglect social problems of her people. She’s actually brave: confronts racism within the black community. Also, all her gender stuff is ultimately slavery related.

Celebrate black folk culture. Similar to Huck Finn, in preference for idiomatic speech. Detested elitism, even though she had huge education.

Key to Hurston: works in different directions. Maverick. ‘niggerati’ : condescending blacks are at fault, morally, but also deluded victims, for not realizing that they are Bryant Gumbles.

Hurston is before her time in willingness to hang out culture’s dirty laundry. Like Toni Morrison.

Daisy parading in front of the guys. Courtship. Hurston enters a classical tradition. But twist. A woman so black that white is the ideal contrast. Her eyes shine white like money, like Daisy Buchanan.

Hemingway’s speech where you don’t know who’s speaking, is reflected in the gossip of Hurston. Communal behavior, pessimistic view. Not as much as the scapegoating in Hemingway, but gossip still is a social corrective.

Love is mobile, like dreams/ships/possibility. Love is identified with transformation. The more responsive you are, the higher the chance at love.

Hurston: the fundamental assumption is that language shapes reality.

You rise above, but not directly through language? ‘Janie is able to rise above. Her language is enabling and joyful’.

Given better prospects, slightly, than their predecessors in slavery, black women can soar.

Hurston’s universalism—transcendent love independent of institutions like racism, unwelcome idea to race thinkers.

Hurston, openness to possibility—power is constantly changing between lovers.

Faulkner/Hurston: values, material, are satisfied with very little. Teeth. Banana. These books critique Gatsbyism materialism. (Faulkner’s character are slightly more materialistic than Hurston’s.)

Racial self-hatred, some characters are more devoted to wanting to be white than on the idea that God doesn’t want you to worship idols.

Janie is pugnacious, protestant, liberated from religion.

Community religion, the last shall be first. Life is tough, and heaven is therefore good to you.

Their Eyes Watching God. People during hurricant. Yet novel may not does not correspond with wrathful hurricane god. Janie’s god doesn’t correspond.

Hurston’s novel is performative. The guys putting on hooting and hitting on Janie are putting it on (yet to a degree they really are attracted to her).

Words transform experience. Language can change reality.

Notes to Catcher in the Rye:

Consider- why is novel appealing form of alienation? Is Holden self-indulgent madman? This book repeatedly censored. If Holden is ultimately a conformist and therefore a hypocrite, why is the book so threatening? Is Holden like Hamlet? What’s the deal with religion—it’s constantly being talked about. Key scenes are ritualized, for example the breaking of the glass (which is part of religious ceremony). Glass breaking is about de-initiating or repudiating membership. The book is about mourning for brother and purity. Holden is an ascetic. Purity. Self-denial as a means of purifying.

What’s the role of gender? Conventional attitude. Homophobic. sees himself as knight in shining armor.

‘Catcher in the Rye’ title is a misprision; misremembers context.

Constantly contradicting himself. Reflective of culture? Novel is usually read a-historically, yet it’s a critique of class system.

Unreliable narrator. If everyone’s phony, there must be a real, an ideal.

Lonesome like Huck. His sense of awe makes us like him. Voyeur like Nick in Gatsby. Prefers looking and thinking to acting. Has anti-social impulses like The Sun Also Rises. hostility and aggression. People hunting red hat. Gets punched—feel authentic like Hemingway.

People are always ruining things for you—straight out of Hemingway.

Holden is incapable of not feeling other people’s pain. Empathetic. People caring for each other—Holden is obsessed with.

DB is a veteran, like Gatsby, and character in As I Lay Dying.

Novel is preoccupied with religion and ritual. Talks about Catholics and Bible, undertaker, nuns, Novel is a work of mourning. Grief/loss makes Holden unfit for social life. Holden becomes a fierce critic of world. The inequities, cruelties, phoniness. There are the hidden injuries of class in Holden.

Holden’s resistance to education, the only thing that interests him in history class is mummification. Death has taught him more than school could.

James Castle’s death brings back loss of Ally. J.C./Jesus, possibly raped by a group before he jumped out window.

Class-criticism: Headmaster Haas snubs parents of non-rich. Mean.

Dick Slegal is obsessed with Holden’s suitcases. Jealous. Calls them bourgeois. Slegal and Holden disdain snobbery, yet Slegal is jealous. Holden tries to minimize the class difference by hiding the suitcases, ultimately unsuccessful: they both find other roommates. Ultimately capitulate to class sytem and find someone your own class.

Is Holden ultimately paralyzed by his insight?

Sacrificial substitution: J. Castle dies with Holen’s sweater.

Dead ends: DB was an ideal; Mr. Antolini, Ernie the musician who forsake his art for money, Holden’s father threw away talent to do corporate law.

What is pure for Holden? Kids, nature, museum objects, the dead. Ally died of leukemia, he was nicest and smartest of family.

Holden loses fencing swords, brother. Compulsive need to lose, to show that he doesn’t care in a therapeutic way? Also, Holden is erratic and wandering; yet he does know what he thinks and is morally uncompromising.

Throw away stuff to clear headspace? And to repudiate materialism.

Holden’s anger at self is survivor’s guilt.

Break windows: wants to feel something—the problem with death is that you can’t feel/experience it. Also, re-experiencing pain of loss.

Jewel is also enraged by the death of Addie.

Distance between Salinger’s humor and narrator. Salinger’s humor at the expense of Holden.

Novel is ultimately on Holden’s side, idealizing youth.

Holden is good at diagnosing ills of society, but not with coming up with what he wants.

Critique: repudiating adulthood and normal development.

Nuns: lots of suitcases—carrying stuff, being burdened. Moves, always packing.

Great revelation of the novel takes place on merry-go-round, cyclical, no progress. Holden is sitting in rain, baptismal. He wants Phoebe to stay in time, merry-go-round doesn’t age.

Reciprocity of care: Phoebe starts to talk like him, but also returns a parental care. Conclusion is open. For sure? = a prophetic intent.

Notes to Lolita

Humbert’s #1 goal, to get us to see him as normal. Men are probably the key audience, he feels he’s gonna get more sympathy. He insults women: “frigid gentlewomen of the jury.”

“Men are all lovers of nymphs”. Lionel Trilling wasn’t able to resist Humbert.

No one is more obsessed with boundaries and classifications than a transgressor. Humbert loves to classify people.
Novel is preoccupied with the holocaust.

Cruelty and humor. Makes us feel guilty when we laugh. Unfortunately doesn’t get to molest Eva Rosen.

People are defined by the possessions they own. Charlotte Haze is trashy because she has trashy souveneirs .

Humbert also wants to confess his guilt.

Film is pervasive in the novel. The narrative is paralleled to film technology, e.g. pornography. If so, we’re consumers of it.

The book is a defense. He admits his crime. Our project, or one of them, is to unpack these layers.

Agency is completely obscured. Who is seducing whom. He suggests that she shares responsibility. She’s a succubus. He’s almost a victim.

He characterizes a type, nymphet, that we are supposed to recognize. Normalize this transgression. This passage is the classical example of the aesthetic defense.
He: entertains, impresses, seduces, makes us laugh.

Redemptive moment in the novel is when he tells us he loves her.

Real love is transgressive; it’s a total transformation, nullification of everything you believe.

It’s all about desire, her desire is small. She’s curious, but doesn’t have anywhere near his desire. Her appetite is for apples and ice cream. He turns her into a prostitute, giving her food for sex. He portrays her throughout as a consumer. Charlotte too.

He wants to preserve girls in time, like Holden wanted to preserve Phoebe.

Women are imitations of film stars, phonies. Gatsby was a phoney.

He has to represent Lolita ultimately as impure (a consumer of junky bad food) a consumer, to justify molestation. Plus her stupid mind and bad taste.

Novel is more disturbing in 2009 than 1959, because we’re so schizophrenic in our attitude towards young girls.

Some young girls exhibit a striking sexuality and curiosity about sex, altogether different from adults.

The media has enhanced our awareness of nymphets. Cultural unconscious fully aware of how erotic girls are. We’re supposed to be on Humbert’s side.

Critical heritage: Lolita is a pervy debauched little girl and wants to be a victim.

Continuum between normal sexuality and Humbert; novel never lets us forget that this is a child.

Lolita as a consumer; Humbert as a consumer of Lolita.

Nabokov is a list-maker, piles on to make his case. Like Huck Finn.

Relationship: for sex Lolita gets stuff.

Humbert’s lists: lyricize American junk. Humbert detests Lolita’s consumption but likes it in a way. He pays lyrical homage.


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