Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lolita and the Monkey Ship

Somehow I reached the age of 53 without reading the infamous novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which is pronounced "Nab o' kov" with a long "o" in the accented second syllable, unlike Sting's pronunciation in the song "Don't Stand So Close to Me." Regarding pronunciation, I read a statement by Nabokov that Lolita should be pronounced with a short "o" like in "doll," even though the nickname is derived from the unfortunate girl's given name of Delores, and in places through the book is shortened to "Lo." In any case, I am in the midst of reading an annotated version of Lolita. Nabokov's style is complex, heavy with allusions, and I thought I would need all the help I could get to wade through it.

I was struck by one reference in Chapter Two of Part Two, where the main character, pedophile Humbert Humbert is describing sights he and Lolita had seen as they traveled across the country, including "(a) zoo in Indiana where a large troop of monkeys lived on concrete replica of Christopher Columbus' flagship." Sure enough, there is such a structure in the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, where Mary and I were married and lived for several years. It was a popular attraction beginning with its completion in the 1930's, but in more recent and enlightened times, it was determined that the 1/3 scale replica of the Santa Maria was unacceptable for simean habitation. The boat remains in the park sans monkeys to this day.

2 comments:

E. M. Atwater said...

Speaking of complex and heavy with allusions... It truly nmakes me curious as to whom, in all their wisdom, decided that a replica of the Santa Maria was an appropriate home for monkeys...

Maybe I'm missing something metaphorical....

;-)

Pat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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