Archive for September, 2009
Continuing our Lolita book cover theme I am grateful to Barbara Bloom for providing this image of her 1998 work Lolita Stamps (you can find her design among them) as well as this quote by Susan Tallman from the retrospective catalogue The Collections of Barbara Bloom:
“BB was drawn to the relentless precision of Nabokov’s prose, and also to the manner in which that relentlessness resulted, not in difficult avant-gardism, but in flat out beauty. (The terrifying thing about Lolita is that it is simultaneously so repugnant and so beautiful.) Like the obsessive lover who seeks to re-dress the object of his desire in the clothes he wants to see her in, BB set about designing her own covers for most (not all) of Nabokov’s novels, quite often by gracing them with prior work of her own: Glory (1932) bears the image of BB’s Pride on its cover, and a chain of Nabokov’s beloved butterfly wings from Never Odd or Even: Corner on the back; Invitation to a Beheading (1938) is adorned with two of BB’s museum photographs: the Greek horse head from the British Museum and another of a bit of Classical statuary truncated by the intrusion of a large red hat. The simplest and most straightforward is Despair, with its black-and-white documentation of BB’s broken porcelain KPM Arkadia dinner plate. Most remarkable, however, is the absurdly apropos silhouette BB found for the cover of Lolita: the pompous (and paunchy) Nabokovean male at the lectern, the saucy stance of the little girl (the word minx seems almost unavoidable) who thrusts her hip at his tendentious fingers. One does wonder what other purpose the image could ever have served.”
I am hopeful that in the not too distant future I will be able to ask her a few questions about her art, her interest in Nabokov, her collection of books from his personal library and, of course, what Humbert is doing with those scissors!
“Welcome. Perhaps you’re here because you and I share a love for the wit and poetry found in Nabokov’s classic, Lolita. For a book fan, Lolita is a trove of voice, alliteration, character, plot, assonance, and mood. It’s chock-full of references and culture. But—and for the morally discriminating reader, there’s always that but—it’s the account of a child rapist, told with fluctuating, insufficient remorse. The narrator’s moral depravity left this reader unsatisfied and I doubt I am alone.
My solution: put on my editor hat go to work, creating an alternate edition of Nabokov’s masterwork, Lolita, Scrubbed. In this new (and I hope, improved) version, I seek to retain the lovable poetry of the book’s original text while excising the book’s amoral core. And while I make no claims to be a writer of Nabokov’s caliber, I plan to “re-see” troubling scenes as the author would, were he convinced of the novel’s problematic nature. I also plan, in an effort to make the book more “of our times,” to apply light cuts here and there in areas where I feel the language goes a little overboard.”
I think it’s quite clear that Kibbey’s misguided effort belies a laughably profound misunderstanding of the novel, but I won’t get into that just yet. For now, I leave this for your amusement:
After stage and screen adaptations, how about a musical interpretation of the novel and its novelist? Viennese composer and trumpeter Franz Koglmann has a new recording, inspired in large part by just that. Using a motif from composer Bob Harris’ “Love Theme” taken from the score of Kubrick’s 1962 film Koglmann’s “dynamically detached chamber jazz” creates a sonic tribute not only to Lolita, but also to other Nabokov works, with titles such as Ada and Van, Vadim Vadimowitsch N., Laura, Just Half a Shade and Martha Dreyer. Past albums by Koglmann include similar treatments of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound:
“Through intimate musical articulation—orchestrating images and clever intellectual references into playful and provocative word sonatas—it was inevitable that Koglmann would choose to decipher the challenging linguistic maneuvers of world-famous writer Vladimir Nobokov, known as the master of “chamber music in prose,” into a set of musical images.”
Listen to clips from the album on the col legno website: