[NB: If you ever have cause to do a Google Image Search for “lolita” you would perhaps be advised to search for “lolita nabokov” on the off chance that L Magazine Art Director Cecilia Ziko, who sits at the desk next to you, happens to look in your direction at the exact moment the results of said Google Image Search appear on your monitor.]
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Vladdy Nabokov’s Lolita (after being held up for three years). To celebrate, your New School is holding a Lolita in America conference, this Saturday, including a panel discussion about Nabokov’s soon-to-be-published posthumous novel The Original of Laura. Which, as you may recall, Nabokov wished to have burned after his death, and which his son Dimitri, after much attention-getting hand-wringing, decided to publish anyway.
On that Laura panel is the I guess you’d say cultural critic Ron Rosenbaum, who this week, anticipating the panel in one of his intermittent, interminable Slate columns, buries his lede and says on page three — in his typically windy, fussy, totally fucking useless manner — that, despite his earlier and public indecisiveness (and subsequent credit-grabbing) on the subject, he now wishes Dmitri had burned the thing after all.
But. Guys. Explain to me please why we are even having a conversation about honoring the deathbed wishes of the guy who wrote, as the opening sentence of his autobiography:
The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.
Jesus H. Christ in a glass case on Wyckoff Avenue, where Nabokov thought he was going there’s no real way of caring whether or not people do or don’t burn the damn manuscript.