by Suellen Stringer-Hye
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
Vanderbilt University

1994 is already a good year for Nabokov. He has been mentioned at least twenty five times in January. Here are some of the highlights:

John Updike wrote an article in the January 3, Newsweek entitled "The '50s: Each Man Was an Island." It is a reminiscence of the 50's in which he says "... the modernist classics-- Eliot and Pound and Joyce and Stevens and Kafka and Proust-- loomed as demigods to undergraduates and bohemians. What decade since the 20's could show a burst of novels as radiant and various as Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and McCuller's Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951), Ellison's Invisible Man and O'Connor's Wise Blood (1952), Bellow's Adventures of Augie March (1953), Nabokov's Lolita (1955), Kerouac's On the Road and Malamud's Assistant (1957), Connell's Mrs. Bridge, Roth's Goodbye Columbus and Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan (1959), to name but a few?" Good company or not?

Nabokov's agent, the flamboyant Hollywood talent agent Irving 'Swifty" Lazar died on January 1, 1994. He was 84 years old. In almost every obituary notice Nabokov's name was amongst those included in a diverse list of clients: Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Franco Zefirelli, Tennessee Williams ... the list goes on and on. For further discussion of Nabokov's relations with Lazar see Brian Boyd's Vladmir Nabokov: The American Years.

Lolita, as usual, defied convention this month. Painter Graham Ovendon, whose photographs of nude girls have embroiled him in a controversy about the difference between art and child pornography, states that "the pervert is the one who puts the fig leaf on, not the one who takes it off." In the January 2 Sunday Telegraph Limited profile of Ovendon and his artistic troubles it says that "Ovenden's art goes one step further than simply depicting nudity for nudity's sake. He wants to make a point about child sexuality--and deliberately makes his paintings sexual. Some of his paintings are of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov's "nymphet" from the book of that name such as one from 1973 called Lolita after the First Lovemaking, which is explicitly sexual...." Anyone seen these paintings?

Unfortunately, the innocent darling is also required to ooze in the sludge along with Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco in "Long Island Lolita," the CBS version of that endearing saga of violence and sex voted "Top Junk Food News Item of '94" by a group of news ombudsmen in Canada and the U.S.

And finally, the vast archives of Graham Green's papers are just beginning to surface and with them a quote from Nabokov, unable to get Greene on the telephone, "...there is nothing so sadly silent as that membrane muteness...."

Ah... one might say the same about the absent Nabokov.

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