Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nabokov's Favorite Author, Robbe-Grillet, Wrote About Nymphets Too


Nabokov was asked in a 1964 Playboy interview, "Are there any contemporary authors you do enjoy reading?" Nabokov replied, "I do have a few favorites—for example, Robbe-Grillet and Borges. How freely and gratefully one breathes in their marvelous labyrinths! I love their lucidity of thought, the purity and poetry, the mirage in the mirror."
After reading in The Paris Review that Nabokov spent two months in Cambridge working on the English translation and commentary of Eugene Onegin for over 17 hours per day I found it interesting that the novel in verse was about how the poet Lensky invited 26-year-old dandy Eugene Onegin to dinner with his fiancée, the nymphet Olga, and her family. During the dinner Tatyana, Olga's 13-year-old older sister, became very infatuated with Onegin but her innocent love for the older man was (initially) unrequited. 

Thus, I suspected that Nabokov's contemporary favorite authors would write about hebephilia themes as well. And my suspicions were confirmed when I picked up a copy of Robbe-Grillet's nouveau roman novel Recollections of the Golden Triangle [French: Souvenirs du Triangle d'Or]
Here's part of the plot summary from the back cover:

It plots the tortuous investigation of a murder that leads to the revelation of the depraved activities of the Society of the Golden Triangle. Robbe-Grillet unravels the story in a dazzling hash of lurid images - a secret doorway, an illicit photograph, the bodies of dead children washed up by the tide-and echoing the pornographic dream research of the twisted Dr. Morgan. 

As it states on Amazon, "Recollections of the Golden Triangle challenges the reader to find his own meaning in its descriptions, clues, and contradictions, and to play detective by assembling the pieces of the fictional puzzle." But what is clear is that this novel falls into the dark side of ephebophilia. Here are two examples\scenes:

To celebrate her 17th birthday, Caroline's father took a whole box at the Opera House. Caroline was commanded to face the stage while straddling two armless red-velvet chairs before her father "...pressed himself shamelessly against her buttocks in order to caress her in greater comfort...The insidious fingers are no longer satisfied with stroking...They pass back and forth in wave after wave, tirelessly, over the bivalvular lips...One tiny, fragile rock resists and stiffens..."

"[And] little Violetta, who on the pretext that she is ill is enjoying a lie-in after breakfasting in bed, leafs through an illustrated children's book recounting exciting episodes from ancient history. The child surreptitiously begins caressing herself under the sheets."

Recollections of the Golden Triangle was published in French in 1978 - a year after Nabokov's death; however Robbe-Grillet's The Voyeur [French: Le Voyeur] was published in 1955. Here's part of Amazon's plot summary:

Mathias, a timorous, ineffectual traveling salesman, returns to the island of his birth after a long absence. Two days later, a thirteen-year-old girl is found drowned and mutilated. With eerie precision, Robbe-Grillet puts us at the scene of the crime and takes us inside Mathias’s mind, artfully enlisting us as detective hot on the trail of a homocidal maniac.

It has not been confirmed that Nabokov was a practicing hebephile, but it's clear that he not only enjoyed writing works that contained the theme of ephebophilia, but he relished authors that encompassed the theme as well.