Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Nabokov Museum Vandalized

The Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg

The Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg was vandalized in 2013 by the ultraconservative St. Petersburg Cossacks for allegedly promoting  pedophilia. Yet again, the term pedophilia was used incorrectly. 

There’s a difference between the common and clinical definitions of pedophilia. The common definition is associated with men over the age of 21 who are sexually attracted to girls under the age of 18; however, the clinical definition of pedophilia is:
  1. A sexual preference for pre-pubertal or early pubertal children 
  2. For six months or more the person has acted on those urges or suffers from distress as a result of having the urges
  3. And the individual must be at least 16-years-old and at least five years older than the subject of desire
The Cossacks may have been a bit more accurate if they would have accused The Nabokov Museum of promoting hebephilia, which is an attraction to 12 to 16-years-old girls. Ephebophilia, which is an attraction to 15 to 19-year-old girls. Or even nympholepsy, which is a general attraction to beautiful young girls. But not pedophilia. 

We would be surprised to learn that the Cossacks even read Lolita. If they had, they may have agreed with professor, novelist, and "men of letters", Robertson Davies' assessment in the Toronto Daily Star that Lolita was: “[...] not [about] the corruption of an innocent child by a cunning adult, but [about] the exploitation of a weak adult by a corrupt child.” And Daphne Merkin’s assertion in New York Magazine that Lolita was a “seductress”. 

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