Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Excerpt: In a Princedom by the Sea

Now Playing: Clint Mansell - Opposites Attract (Black Swan OST)

[Introduction].

These next two Monday Exerpts are going to be super obvious, but this list would be incomplete without them.

The entire reason this book works is because of the prose. Without it, it wouldn't be half as clever and half as powerful. Nabokov draws you in with beautiful, lyrical language and promptly sticks you into the mind of a depraved, demented, sociopathic man that destroys the life of a pre-teen girl.

The only problem is that there's no part of Lolita that hasn't been quoted and analyzed by a million other people, so even when I'm trying to narrow it down to my personal choice, it's a bit difficult not to be affected by that. And I tried really, really hard not to do the obvious, not to pick the opening paragraphs. I reread chunks of the book over the week, and I found a ton of passages I loved.

But in the end, nothing beats the opening.

It's really all in the alliteration--you can't miss it, but you're not distracted by it. It's perfect.

Sorry. I was going to try and steer away from it, but I just couldn't. It's a famous passage and rightfully so.

(Photograph is from the 1997 Random House cover).

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for fancy prose style.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
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