..’a mirror of human frailties’, indeed..
So many things to love about this clip..
Nabokov’s opening gambit – “…First, of all, I don’t wish to touch hearts, and i don’t even want to affect minds very much. What i want to produce is, really, that little ‘sob’ in the spine of the reader. I leave the field of ideas to Dr Schweitzer, and to Doctor Zhivago…”
The way they all three suddenly rise unannounced from the desk and faux-casually wander over to the sofa. “.. I’d like to ask mr Trilling.. as we move over here..” Brilliant.
They’re drinking tea from tiny china cups, and Lionel Trilling smokes stylishly throughout – oh, and comes out with this little gem – “..We can’t trust a creative writer to say what he has done. He can say what he meant to do, and, even then, we don’t have to believe him..”
But most of all I love Nabokov’s story about the ape who was given charcoal and proceeded to draw the bars of his own cage, and how Humbert is Nabokov’s own baboon, ‘a genius baboon perhaps’, but still a baboon “… drawing and shading and erasing and re-drawing the bars of his cage – the bars between him and what he terms the human herd… It is his passion, the pattern of his passion…”